Organochlorine contaminants in sea turtles: Correlations between whole blood and fat

Authors

  • Jennifer M. Keller,

    Corresponding author
    1. Duke University, Integrated Toxicology Program and Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Division of Coastal Systems Science and Policy, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516, USA
    2. National Institute of Standards and Technology Hollings Marine Laboratory Charleston South Carolina 29412, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. The current address of J.M. Keller is National Institute of Standards and Technology, Hollings Marine Laboratory, 331 Fort Johnson Road, Charleston, SC 29412, USA
    • Duke University, Integrated Toxicology Program and Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Division of Coastal Systems Science and Policy, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516, USA
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  • John R. Kucklick,

    1. National Institute of Standards and Technology Hollings Marine Laboratory Charleston South Carolina 29412, USA
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  • Craig A. Harms,

    1. North Carolina State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, Center for Marine Science and Technology, Morehead City, North Carolina 28557, USA
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  • Patricia D. McClellan-Green

    1. Duke University, Integrated Toxicology Program and Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Division of Coastal Systems Science and Policy, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516, USA
    2. North Carolina State University, Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695, USA
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Abstract

Monitoring toxic organochlorine(OC)compounds is an important aspect in wildlife studies, especially in protected species such as sea turtles. The goal of this study was to determine whether blood OC concentrations can predict those in adipose tissue of sea turtles. Blood offers many benefits for monitoring OCs. It can be collected nondestructively from live turtles and can be sampled repeatedly for continuous monitoring. Organochlorine concentrations in blood may better represent the exposure levels of target tissues, but blood concentrations may fluctuate more than those in fatty tissues following recent dietary exposure or lipid mobilization. Paired fat and blood samples were collected from 44 live, juvenile loggerhead sea turtles and 10 juvenile Kemp's ridley sea turtle carcasses. Organochlorines were analyzed using gas chromatography with electron capture detection and mass spectrometry. Lipid-normalized OC concentrations measured in the blood significantly correlated to levels found in the fat samples of both species. This result suggests that sea turtle blood is a suitable alternative to fatty tissues for measuring OCs because blood concentrations reasonably represent those observed in the paired fat samples. However, blood OC concentrations calculated on a wet-mass basis were significantly and inversely correlated to lipid content in the fat samples. Therefore, caution should be used when monitoring spatial or temporal trends, as OC levels may increase in the blood following mobilization of fat stores, such as during long migrations, breeding, or disease events.

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