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Persistent organic pollutants in blood plasma of satellite-tracked adult male loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta)

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Abstract

Risks from persistent organic pollutants (POPs) remain largely a mystery for threatened loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta). The present study examines regional-scale POP differences in blood plasma from adult male C. caretta based on movement patterns. Turtles were captured near Port Canaveral, Florida, USA, in April of 2006 and 2007 and fitted with satellite transmitters as part of a National Marine Fisheries Service–funded project. Residents (n = 9) remained near the capture site, whereas transients (n = 10) migrated northward, becoming established in areas largely from south of Pamlico Sound, North Carolina, to north of Cape May, New Jersey, USA. Blood was sampled from the dorsocervical sinus of each turtle and analyzed using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry for organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and toxaphenes. Blood plasma concentrations of OCPs and total PBDEs were elevated in transients (p < 0.05) and in some cases were correlated with turtle size. Migratory adults showed an atypical PBDE congener profile relative to other published studies on wildlife, with PBDE 154 being the dominant congener. Additionally, PCB congener patterns differed between groups, with total PCBs slightly elevated in transients. This supports the idea that foraging location can influence exposure to, and patterns of, POPs in highly mobile species such as C. caretta. Understanding patterns of contamination informs wildlife managers about possible health risks to certain subpopulations. The present study is the first to examine POPs in the rarely studied adult male sea turtle and to couple contaminant measurements with satellite tracking. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2011; 30:1549–1556. © 2011 SETAC

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