Persistent Organochlorine Contaminants and Enantiomeric Signatures of Chiral Pollutants in Ringed Seals (Phoca hispida) Collected on the East and West Side of the Northwater Polynya, Canadian Arctic

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Abstract

To examine the influence of diet and age on organochlorine contaminant (OC) concentrations in two closely related ringed seal (Phoca hispida) populations enantiomeric fractions (EFs) of chiral contaminants and stable isotopes of nitrogen (δ15N) and carbon (δ13C) were measured along with OCs in ringed seals collected from the east and west side of the Northwater Polynya. Seals from these two locations were feeding at the same trophic level based on δ15N values in muscle but had slightly different sources of carbon based on δ13C measurements in muscle. After removing the influence of age, sex, and blubber thickness, OC concentrations did not vary between ringed seals from the east and west side of the polynya. ΣPCB, ΣDDT, and Σchlordane were found to increase with age for both male and female seals. The inclusion of older (>20 years) female seals, which may have a reduced reproductive effort, may influence the relationships in females. Stable isotopes failed to describe OC concentrations in ringed seals suggesting that diet was not a major factor in variation of OC concentrations within this ringed seal population. Cis- and trans-chlordane, oxychlordane, and heptachlor epoxide were all nonracemic in the ringed seal blubber but did not vary with age, sex, or collection site. α-HCH appeared racemic (enantiomeric fraction = 0.50 ± 0.01) in the seals, although this EF is different than those previously observed in their prey species, and was found to vary significantly with age. EF values in the ringed seals varied considerably from other Arctic marine mammals and seabirds, providing addition evidence that the type(s) and characteristic(s) of the enzymes involved in biotransformation of chiral OCs vary between these organisms.

Received: 11 April 2001/Accepted: 27 June 2001