Organochlorine Exposure and Health Effects in Stranded Steller Sea Lions (eumetopias Jubatus) and Pacific Harbor Seals (phoca Vitulina Richardii) from Oregon and Southern Washington Coasts

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Marine Mammal Science

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Organochlorine (OC) pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been detected in a variety of marine mammal species at levels associated with adverse health effects. Little is known about OC levels and impacts on health in pinnipeds with different life histories. We determined the health and levels of 18 OC pesticides and 16 PCB congeners in blubber samples from 20 Steller sea lions and 39 Pacific harbor seals stranded from Oregon and Southern Washington. The most commonly detected OC at the highest concentration was p,p′‐ dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE). PCBs were detected in all samples as well. Hypothesis testing indicated that diseased Steller sea lions (males and females combined) had higher contaminant concentrations than healthy Steller sea lions, and diseased Pacific harbor seals had higher concentrations of total OCs than healthy animals. Differences were also noted between diseased and healthy animals when looking at individual sexes of each species. Diseased Steller sea lions had higher mean contaminant levels than diseased harbor seals and healthy Steller sea lions had higher mean contaminant concentrations than healthy Pacific harbor seals. These results show that species differences exist in both contaminant loads and sensitivity to contaminants, which may be due to differences in life histories and physiology.


© 2021 Society for Marine Mammalogy

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