Levels of organochlorine chemicals in tissues of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) from the St. Lawrence Estuary, Québec, Canada

  • D. Martineau
  • P. Béland
  • C. Desjardins
  • A. Lagacé


High levels of organochlorine chemicals (OC) were found in the blubber of 26 stranded carcasses of beluga whales from an isolated population in the St. Lawrence Estuary (Québec, Canada). These compounds accumulated with age in both sexes, being consistently more concentrated in male tissue; high and variable concentrations were found in four juveniles. Lower levels in females are best explained through massive transfer to the newborn during lactation, resulting in juvenile OC concentrations equal to or higher than in adult males. Concentrations in the liver and kidney expressed on a lipid basis suggest dynamic OC exchange between tissues. The adipose tissue concentrations reported here were higher or equal to those found In some pinnipeds, in laboratory animals, and in domestic animals with severe reproductive failure. These findings suggest that OC contamination is a major factor in the non-recovery of the St. Lawrence beluga population over the last decades.


Lipid Waste Water Massive Transfer Adipose Tissue Water Management 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Martineau
    • 1
    • 2
  • P. Béland
    • 1
  • C. Desjardins
    • 3
  • A. Lagacé
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre de Recherche en Ecologie des PêchesPêches et Océans CanadaRimouskiCanada
  2. 2.Faculté de Médecine VétérinaireUniversité de MontréalSt-HyacintheCanada
  3. 3.Laboratoire régional d'InspectionPêches et Océans CanadaLongueuilCanada

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