Elemental Composition of Liver and Kidney Tissues of Rough-Toothed Dolphins (Steno bredanensis)
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On December 14, 1997, 62 rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis) stranded on Cape San Blas, on the Florida coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Approximately 30 animals died either on the beach or in rehabilitation facilities. Two were successfully rehabilitated and released. Liver, kidney, blubber, and muscle tissues were collected from 15 animals that died on the beach. Portions of the liver and kidney from each dolphin were analyzed using instrumental neutron activation analysis and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry to determine mass fractions of 37 elements. Levels of several electrolytes (Na, Cl, K, Br, Rb, I, Cs) and of the essential trace elements Fe, Cu, and Zn in both tissues were similar to those found in other Odontoceti. Mass fractions of Ca ranged from 60 mg/kg to 1,200 mg/kg (wet mass basis), indicating significant inhomogeneity in the kidney tissues of several animals. Necropsy reports noted that the kidneys of many of these animals contained fibrous nodules. The measured Ca inhomogeneity may be due to mineralization of the fibrous kidney tissue. Hepatic levels of Hg and Se were at the high end of the ranges generally found in livers of other Odontoceti and were slightly higher in animals with fibrous kidneys than in the others. Mass fractions of Se, Ag, and Hg in liver tissues increased with the size and age of the animals indicating accumulation of these elements in the liver with age. Results also indicate that Se and Hg accumulate in rough-toothed dolphin kidney. Accumulation of these elements with age has been reported commonly for marine mammals and other species.
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