Polar Biology

, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 311–320

Mercury, cadmium, zinc, copper and selenium in harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) from West Greenland


  • Paul Paludan-Müller
    • Greenland Environmental Research Institute
  • Carsten Thyge Agger
    • Greenland Environmental Research Institute
  • Rune Dietz
    • Greenland Environmental Research Institute
  • Carl Christian Kinze
    • Zoological Museum

DOI: 10.1007/BF00238358

Cite this article as:
Paludan-Müller, P., Agger, C.T., Dietz, R. et al. Polar Biol (1993) 13: 311. doi:10.1007/BF00238358


Muscle, liver, kidney and skin samples taken from 78 harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) were analysed for mercury, cadmium, zinc, copper and selenium. The highest concentrations of mercury were found in the liver (geometric mean 4.17 μg/g wet weight), whilst the highest concentrations of cadmium were in the kidney (g.m. 13.2 μg/g ww). The levels of cadmium were more than ten times higher than in harbour porpoises from the North Sea and the British NW coast, whilst the mercury levels were about the same. The importance of the cadmium content in the prey is discussed, but this attempt did not revealed the differences. Very high levels of zinc (g.m. 359 μg/g ww) and selenium (g.m. 28.6 μg/g ww) were found in skin samples, respectively seven and ten times more than in liver. A significant correlation was found between age and the level of mercury and cadmium in all organs. The concentration of mercury and selenium in liver and skin samples and of cadmium and zinc in kidney samples were highly correlated.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993