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Mercury and Organochlorine Pesticides in Tissues of Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta) Stranded Along the Southwestern Mediterranean Coastline (Andalusia, Spain)

Abstract

Nineteen loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) stranded along the southwestern Mediterranean coastline (Andalusia) were used in this study. A total of 68 samples of fat (n = 18), liver (n = 15), kidney (n = 13), pectoral muscle (n = 19), and brain (n = 3) were analysed for total mercury (Hg) and organochlorine pesticides [OC: ∑Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethanes (∑DDT), ∑Hexachlorocyclohexane (∑HCH), ∑Heptachlor, ∑Drins and ∑Endosulfan]. These loggerhead sea turtles showed tissue Hg and OC concentrations similar to or lower than those reported in other studies. Few growth-related variations in Hg or OC levels in relation to straight carapace length were found, probably because the specimens were mostly juveniles. This study will help to fill the gap on spatio-temporal exposure data and ascertain the real world-wide picture of the contamination levels in loggerhead sea turtles.

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the Aula del Mar (Málaga), and projects from the Spanish Government (MASCA’2008 CGL-2008-4318/BOS-and NOVEDAR-CONSOLIDER - CSD00C-07-22204). Silvia Espín was funded by Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades (Juan de la Cierva-Incorporación contract, IJCI-2017-34653). Thanks to Juan J. Castillo and Juan J. Bellido from CREMA (Threatened Marine Species Rehabilitation Centre- Aula del Mar, Málaga) for their inestimable help with sampling and necropsies, and C. Bolumar for collaborating with the analysis of mercury.

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Correspondence to Silvia Espín or Antonio J. García-Fernández.

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Gómez-Ramírez, P., Espín, S., Navas, I. et al. Mercury and Organochlorine Pesticides in Tissues of Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta) Stranded Along the Southwestern Mediterranean Coastline (Andalusia, Spain). Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 104, 559–567 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00128-020-02822-z

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Keywords

  • Mercury
  • Organochlorine pesticides
  • Caretta caretta
  • Loggerhead sea turtle
  • Marine pollution