Marine Biology

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 91–104 | Cite as

Mercury-selenium-bromine imbalance in premature parturient California sea lions

  • J. H. Martin
  • P. D. Elliott
  • V. C. Anderlini
  • D. Girvin
  • S. A. Jacobs
  • R. W. Risebrough
  • R. L. Delong
  • W. G. Gilmartin
Article

Abstract

High premature birth rates have been observed in the rookeries of the California sea lion Zalophus californianus since 1968. The reasons for the premature pupping are complex and, hence, not well understood, although leptospirosis infection and elevated PCB and DDT residues have been implicated. We were interested in determining what role trace and major elements played in these events. Livers and kidneys from 10 normal parturient and 10 premature parturient mothers and their pups were analyzed for Hg, Se, Br, Cd, Ag, Cu, Fe, Zn, Mn, K, Na, Ca, and Mg in order to detect differences that might exist between the two groups. A further objective was to establish how these elements varied in relation to each other in the normal and abnormal sea lions. Our results revealed that Hg, Se, Cd, and Br levels were significantly higher in the livers of the normal mothers and that these elements were all in balance (highly correlated) with each other. This was especially true for Hg, Se, and Br. In mothers with high concentrations of these elements (e.g. Hg greater than 800 μg/g dry weight), atomic ratios of approximately 1Hg:1Se:1Br were observed. Atomic Se:Hg ratios were also near unity in the abnormal mothers; however, Br concentrations were always severely depressed in these individuals. Normal full-term pups had higher hepatic levels of Hg and Se, and near-perfect 1:1 Se:Hg atomic ratios were almost always observed. In contrast, the livers of the premature pups appeared to be deficient in Hg, and, consequently, elevated Se:Hg ratios were always found. In almost all cases, the premature pups had increased concentrations of Na, Ca, and Br. Levels of these elements were correlated with their Se:Hg ratios. Amounts of Mn and Cu were reduced in the premature pups and negatively correlated with Se:Hg ratios. The results suggest that balance between elements is of more importance than absolute concentration when the possible effects of toxic elements are considered. It also appears that bromine may be important in the detoxification process involving Se and Hg and perhaps Cd as well; i.e., every mother that had Br in balance with Hg, Cd, and Se had a normal pup, while every mother that lacked sufficient Br had a premature pup. The question of whether Hg detoxifies Se is also raised. All the normal pups had Se:Hg atomic ratios of less than 2.2, while all the premature pups had reduced Hg amounts and Se:Hg ratios above 3.4.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Anke, M. and B. Groppel: Manganese deficiency and radioisotope studies on manganese metabolism. In: Trace element metabolism in animals, pp 133–136. Ed. by C.F. Mills. Edinburgh and London: E. & S. Livingstone 1970Google Scholar
  2. Anonymous: Baseline studies of pollutants in the marine environment and research recommendations: the IDOE baseline conference, May 24–26, 1972, 54 pp. New York 1972Google Scholar
  3. Bowen, H.J.M.: Trace elements in biochemistry, 241 pp. New York: Academic Press 1966Google Scholar
  4. DeLong, R.L., W.G. Gilmartin and J.G. Simpson: Premature births in California sea lions: association with high organochlorine pollutant residue levels. Science, N.Y. 181, 1168–1169 (1973)Google Scholar
  5. Diplock, A.T., H. Baum and J.A. Lucy: The effect of vitamin E on the oxidation state of selenium in rat liver. Biochem. J. 123, 721–729 (1971)Google Scholar
  6. —, C.P.J. Caygill, E.H. Jeffrey and C. Thomas: The nature of the acid-volatile selenium in the liver of the male rat. Biochem. J. 134, 283–293 (1973)Google Scholar
  7. Duce, R.A., G.L. Hoffman and W.H. Zoller: Atmospheric trace metals at remote northern and southern hemisphere sites: pollution or natural? Science, N.Y. 187, 59–61 (1975)Google Scholar
  8. Eisler, R.: Annotated bibliography on biological effects of metals in aquatic environments, 287 pp. Corvallis, Oregon: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 1973Google Scholar
  9. Everson, G.J.: The effects of manganese deficiency during gestation of the offspring. In: Trace element metabolism in animals, pp 125–130. Ed. by C.F. Mills. Edinburgh and London: E. & S. Livingstone 1970Google Scholar
  10. Friberg, L., M. Piscator, G.F. Nordberg and T. Kjellstrom: Cadmium in the environment, 248 pp. Cleveland, Ohio: CRC Press 1974Google Scholar
  11. Fuller, J.M., E.D. Beckman, M. Goldman and L.K. Bustad: Selenium determination in human and swine tissues by X-ray emission spectrometry. In: Symposium: selenium in biomedicine, pp 119–124. Ed. by O.H. Muth, J.E. Oldfield and P.H. Weswig. Westport, Connecticut: Avi Publishing Co. 1967Google Scholar
  12. Giauque, R.D., F.S. Goulding, J.M. Jaklevic and R.H. Pehl: Trace element determination with semiconductor detector x-ray spectrometers. Analyt. Chem. 45, 671–681 (1973)Google Scholar
  13. Gilmartin, W.G., R.L. DeLong, A.W. Smith, J.C. Sweeney, B.W. de Lappe, R.W. Risebrough, L.A. Griner, M.D. Dailey and D.B. Peakall: Premature parturition in the California sea lion. J. Wild. Dis. (In press)Google Scholar
  14. Hadeishi, T., D.A. Church, R.D. McLaughlin, B.D. Zac, M. Nakamura and B. Chang: Mercury monitor for ambient air. Science, N.Y. 187, 348–349 (1975)Google Scholar
  15. Knauer, G.A. and J. H. Martin: Mercury in a marine pelagic food chain. Limnol. Oceanogr. 17, 868–876 (1972)Google Scholar
  16. Koeman, J.H., W.S.M. van de Ven, J.J.M. de Goeij, P.S. Tjioe and J.L. van Haaften: Mercury and selenium in marine mammals and birds. Sci. total Envir. 3, 279–287 (1975)Google Scholar
  17. Lassiter, J.W., J.D. Morton and W.J. Miller: Influence of manganese on skeletal development in the sheep and rat. In: Trace element metabolism in animals, pp 130–132. Ed. by C. F. Mills. Edinburgh and London: E. & S. Livingstone 1970Google Scholar
  18. Maag, D.D. and M.W. Glenn: Toxicity of selenium: farm animals. In: Symposium: selenium in biomedicine, pp 127–140. Ed. by O.H. Muth, J.E. Oldfield and P.H. Weswig. Westport, Connecticut: Avi Publishing Co. 1967Google Scholar
  19. Martin, J.H. and G.A. Knauer: The elemental composition of plankton. Geochim. cosmochim. Acta 37, 1639–1653 (1973)Google Scholar
  20. Muth, O.H., J.E. Oldfield and P.H. Weswig (Eds.): Symposium: selenium in biomedicine, 445 pp. Westport, Connecticut: Avi Publishing Co. 1967Google Scholar
  21. Odell, D.K.: Premature pupping in the California sea lion. In: Proceedings of the 7th Annual Biosonar and Diving Mammal Conference, pp 185–190. Menlo Park, California: Stanford Research Institute 1970Google Scholar
  22. Parizek, J., I. Benes, I. Ostadalova, A. Babicky, J. Benes and J. Pitha: The effect of selenium on the toxicity of cadmium and some other metals. In: Mineral metabolism in paediatrics, pp 117–134. Ed. by D. Baltrop. Oxford and Edinburgh: Blackwell Scientific Publications 1969Google Scholar
  23. —, I. Ostadalova, J. Kalouskova, A. Babicky and J. Benes: The detoxifying effects of selenium: interrelations between compounds of selenium and certain metals. In: Newer trace elements in nutrition, pp 85–122. Ed. by W. Merty and W.E. Cornatzer. New York: Marcel Dekker 1971aGoogle Scholar
  24. ——, L. Pavlik and B. Bibr: Effect of mercuric compounds on the maternal transmission of selenium in the pregnant and lactating rat. J. Reprod. Fert. 25, 157–170 (1971b)Google Scholar
  25. Schroeder, H.A., D.V. Frost and J.J. Balassa: Essential trace metals in man: selenium. J. chron. Dis. 23, 227–243 (1970)Google Scholar
  26. Vedros, N.A., A.W. Smith, J. Schonewald, G. Migaki and R.C. Hubbard: Leptospirosis epizootic among California sea lions. Science, N.Y. 172, 1250–1251 (1971)Google Scholar
  27. Zac, B.D.: Instruction manual for research prototype IZAA Hg detector. Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory Report, LBL 2085, 1974. (Internal report)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. H. Martin
    • 1
    • 2
  • P. D. Elliott
    • 1
    • 2
  • V. C. Anderlini
    • 3
  • D. Girvin
    • 3
  • S. A. Jacobs
    • 3
  • R. W. Risebrough
    • 4
  • R. L. Delong
    • 5
  • W. G. Gilmartin
    • 6
  1. 1.California State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Moss Landing Marine LaboratoriesMoss LandingUSA
  3. 3.Lawrence Berkeley LaboratoryUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  4. 4.Bodega Marine LaboratoryUniversity of CaliforniaBodega BayUSA
  5. 5.Marine Mammal DivisionNational Marine Fisheries Service, Naval Support ActivitySeattleUSA
  6. 6.Bio-Systems ProgramNaval Undersea CenterSan DiegoUSA

Personalised recommendations