Differences in DDT and PCB Residues Between Common and Striped Dolphins from the Southwestern Mediterranean

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Organochlorine concentrations (OCs) and stable isotopes were investigated in the blubber of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) and striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) from the southwestern Mediterranean. Samples were obtained from dolphins entangled in fishing nets during the 1992–1994 fishing season and from biopsies taken in 1992. Intrapopulation variations were studied, but because most of the dolphins were juveniles or calves (90%), no significant differences were found on the basis of reproductive condition or sex. Only mature male common dolphins showed significantly higher levels of most of the compounds studied than immature individuals did. There were quantitative and qualitative interspecific differences in organochlorine compounds profile. As compared to common dolphins, striped dolphins carried higher concentrations of organochlorine concentrations (OCs), their %DDE/tDDT and PCB/tDDT ratios were significantly higher, and recalcitrant PCB congeners were more abundant. Distribution and information on composition of stomach contents would in principle support a higher exposure to OCs in common dolphins as compared to striped dolphins, thus apparently contradicting the observed results. However, stable isotopes showed that striped dolphins exploit a higher trophic level, thus explaining observed differences. Interspecific dissimilarities in metabolic capacity to handle OCs may be an added factor. Although in the two species OC concentrations exceeded levels considered to be ineffective in marine mammals, pollution-induced effects on populations could not be properly assessed.