Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are long-term residents and apex predators in southeast U.S. estuaries and are vulnerable to bioaccumulation of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Dart biopsy samples were collected from 45 dolphins in Biscayne Bay (Miami, FL), 34 of which were matched using fin markings to a photo identification catalogue. Blubber samples were analyzed for 73 polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners, six polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) congeners, and organochlorine pesticides including dichloro-diphenyl- trichloroethane (DDT) and metabolites, chlordanes, and dieldrin. Total PCBs (Σ73PCBs) were present in the highest concentrations and were 5 times higher in males with sighting histories in the northern, metropolitan area of Biscayne Bay than males with sighting histories in the southern, more rural area [geometric mean: 43.3 (95% confidence interval: 28.0-66.9) vs 8.6 (6.3-11.9) μg/g wet mass, respectively]. All compound classes had higher concentrations in northern animals than southern. The differences in POP concentrations found on this small geographic scale demonstrate that differential habitat use can strongly influence pollutant concentrations and should be considered when interpreting bottlenose dolphin POP data. The PCB concentrations in northern Bay dolphins are high as compared to other studies of estuarine dolphins and may place these animals at risk of reproductive failure and decreased immune function.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry