In integrating ecotoxicology and marine mammalogy two principal themes are conceivable: (1) the impact of contaminants on marine mammals and (2) the feasibility of monitoring marine pollution with marine mammals. Monitoring should be an alert procedure, carried out with a sensitive sensor. Uncertainties in interpreting analyses and the low susceptibility of marine mammals to short-term changes in pollution, make them inappropriate for pollution monitoring at present.
To answer the question whether pollutants affect marine mammals, the occurrence of contaminants and the response of the animals to those chemicals have to be assessed. In studying the occurrence of contaminants it is essential that atmospheric and riverine input, geochemical processes, and processes involved with the occurrence of natural compounds are considered. To investigate the mechanisms by which pollutants affect physiological processes the kinetics of contaminants in the animals and their clinical toxicity effects have to be studied. Comparative reference data on physical and chemical blood parameters facilitates checking for hematological disorders, electrolyte imbalance, serum biochemistry and hormonal changes. Following such a concept the retrospective study of pollution effects on marine mammals might be turned into a predictive approach.