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Forensic Science International: Animals and Environments

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Marine mammals--Ecology


Because of the rich omega-3 fatty acids content, harp seal (Pagophilus groenlandicus) oil is a popular supplement that is packaged as pills in Canada and sold for medicinal purposes, although this practice is banned in the United States. Due to US regulations, it is important to be able to distinguish between fish oil and seal oil, but the taxonomic determination of oils provenance has been a difficult problem to solve. In this study, Direct Analysis in Real Time time-of-flight mass spectrometry (DART TOFMS) was used to analyze the chemotypes of blubber samples collected from seven species of marine mammals, including seals, sea lions, and a porpoise. Results indicated that the chemotype profiles found in negative-ion mode could be used to separate all of the species using Discriminant Analysis of Principal Components (DAPC). Consequently, this study suggests that it may be possible to identify the taxonomic source of marine mammal oils based on chemical chemotypes.


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