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Evidence of metal pollution in cetacea of the western mediterranean

Annales de l'Institut Oceanographique 54(1): 5-16

Evidence of metal pollution in cetacea of the western mediterranean

Whether pollution of the Mediterranean by metals has repercussions on Cetacea by way of their trophic environment was studied. Several important metals entering the sea, Fe, Ti, Cr, V, Cd, Pb and Hg, were assayed in the organs of various beached Cetacea: skin, blubber, muscle, liver, lung, kidney and brain. Fe and Hg were found in abnormally high levels in the liver; Ti is stored in the lung and transgresses the placental barrier; a relatively large amount of Cr is present in nervous tissue; Cd reaches a maximum in the kidney and the highest levels of V are found in the gut. The highest levels found in Cetacea organs are 8 .times. higher than the maximum admissible human dietary levels for Fe, and 1500 .times. higher for that of Hg. Concentrations of Ti found in Cetacea are the highest reported for marine animals; Cr values are 2.5 .times. and those of V 4 .times. higher than those for other marine species. The number of Cetacean beachings has increased progressively each year and the specific composition is changing; e.g., there has been a considerable increase in beachings of Stenella coeruleoalba.

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Accession: 005411564

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