Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 151, Issue 2, pp 195–208 | Cite as

Mercury and Selenium in Subantarctic Commerson’s Dolphins (Cephalorhynchus c. commersonii)

  • Iris Cáceres-SaezEmail author
  • Natalia A. Dellabianca
  • R. Natalie P. Goodall
  • H. Luis Cappozzo
  • Sergio Ribeiro Guevara


Total mercury (THg) and selenium (Se) concentrations were determined in hepatic, renal, and muscle tissues of seven specimens of Commerson’s dolphins incidentally captured in artisanal fisheries of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, by instrumental neutron activation analysis. Liver yielded the mean highest concentration of THg 9.40 (9.92) μg g−1 dry weight (DW) (standard deviation of the average in parenthesis); kidney and muscle showed similar values, ranging from 2.34 to 3.63 μg g−1 DW. Selenium concentrations were similar in hepatic and renal tissues, with values from 13.62 to 14.56 μg g−1 DW; the lowest concentration was observed in muscle, 4.13 (2.05) μg g−1 DW. Among the specimens analyzed, the maximum concentrations of THg and Se were observed in the single adult female studied. An increasing age trend is observed for THg concentrations in tissues analyzed. The molar ratio of Se/Hg in the hepatic, renal, and muscle tissues were 8.7 (9.6), 13.2 (9.5), and 9.0 (11.4), respectively, suggesting Se protection against Hg toxicity. Silver concentrations in the three tissues were included, and the Se/(Hg + 0.5×Ag) molar ratio showed values closer to 1. Both Hg and Se concentrations in liver and kidney were comparable to those found in other small odontocetes from Argentine and Brazilian waters. This study constitutes the first joint description reported of Hg and Se concentrations in liver, kidney, and muscle of the Commerson’s dolphin species.


Mercury Selenium Silver Commerson’s Dolphins Southwestern South Atlantic Ocean 



We are grateful to A. Rizzo and M. Arcagni for their support in sample conditioning and to the reactor RA-6 operation staff for their technical assistance in sample irradiation. ICS would like to express her appreciation to D. Janiger for the useful and valuable literature support, M.S. Saez Falcucci for giving her continuous and generous assistance during this work, M.O. Cáceres and F. Pereyra Bonnet for their constructive comments on the manuscript. RNPG is grateful to the Committee for Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society and Total Austral SA for their continuing support to the field work carried out in Tierra del Fuego and the Museo Acatushún de Aves y Mamíferos Marinos Australes’ AMMA project. We appreciate the hard work of AMMA volunteers who helped with the collection and the dissection of the specimens, and our sincere gratitude goes to the collaboration of the artisanal fishermen. ICS was supported by a PhD fellowship from the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) of Argentina and was funded by Grants in Aid of Research from the Cetacean Society International (CSI) and the Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM). Research in Tierra del Fuego is carried out under permit from the local government. All samples were transferred under licences extended by the Secretaría de Ciencia y Tecnología, Secretaria de Desarrollo Sustentable y Ambiente, and SENASA, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. We would like to thank two anonymous referees for their reviews.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iris Cáceres-Saez
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Natalia A. Dellabianca
    • 2
    • 3
  • R. Natalie P. Goodall
    • 2
    • 3
  • H. Luis Cappozzo
    • 1
    • 4
  • Sergio Ribeiro Guevara
    • 5
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Ecología, Comportamiento y Mamíferos Marinos (LECyMM)Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia” (MACN-CONICET)Buenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Museo Acatushún de Aves y Mamíferos Marinos AustralesUshuaiaArgentina
  3. 3.Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC-CONICET)UshuaiaArgentina
  4. 4.Centro de Estudios Biomédicos, Biotecnológicos, Ambientales y Diagnóstico (CEBBAD), Fundación de Historia Natural Félix de AzaraDepartamento de Ciencias Naturales y Antropología, Universidad MaimónidesBuenos AiresArgentina
  5. 5.Laboratorio de Análisis por Activación NeutrónicaCentro Atómico Bariloche - Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica (CAB-CNEA)BarilocheArgentina

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