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Keywords:

  • Sea otter;
  • Organochlorin;
  • Pesticide;
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls;
  • Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins

Abstract

Organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) including non-ortho PCBs, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) were measured in sea otter liver tissue from California, southeast Alaska, and the western Aleutian archipelago collected between 1988 and 1992. Average total dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane concentrations for California otters (850 μg/kg wet weight) were over 20 times higher than in Aleutian otters (40 μg/kg) and over 800 times higher than otters from southeast Alaska (1 μg/kg). Levels for total PCBs in Aleutian otters (310 μg/kg) were 1.7 times higher than levels in California otters (190 μg/kg) and 38 times higher than otters from southeast Alaska (8 μg/kg). Levels for PCDD and PCDF were extremely low in all otter populations. Levels of PCBs in Aleutian and Californian otters are abnormally high when compared with southeast Alaskan otters. The source of PCBs to the Aleutian Islands remains unclear and vital to understanding the potential impacts to sea otters.