Levels and profiles of chlorinated and brominated contaminants in Southern Hemisphere humpback whales, **Megaptera novaeangliae**
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences. Pharmacy
, p. 49-57
University of Antwerp
The study documents the levels and profiles of selected contaminants [polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and methoxylated PBDEs (MeO-PBDE5)] in blubber biopsy samples collected from humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Antarctic Peninsula waters. In addition, we investigated year-to-year and sex-related differences in the bioaccumulation patterns. Except for hexachlorobenzene (HCB), whose concentrations were in the same range as those found in whales from the Northern Hemisphere, levels of all other compounds were lower in Southern Hemisphere whales compared to literature data on animals from the Arctic and subarctic region. The mean contribution to the sum of all anthropogenic organohalogen compounds (Sigma OHC) decreased in the following order Sigma PCBs (44%) > HCB (31%) > Sigma DDXs (13%) > Sigma CHLs (4.6%) > Sigma HCHs (4.4%) > Sigma PBDEs (0.9%). The predominant compounds within each chemical class were: PCBs 153, 149, 101 and 138; p,p'-DDE; gamma-HCH; trans-nonachlor; PBDEs 99 and 47. The most dominant MeO-PBDE congener was 6-MeO-BDE 47. As samples were collected during three consecutive summer seasons, year-to-year trends could be assessed indicating a significant decrease from 2000 to 2003 for Sigma CHL levels. Higher Sigma PBDE concentrations and higher values of the Sigma PBDE / Sigma MeO-PBDE ratio, as well as higher ratios between the two MeO-BDEs (2'-MeO-BDE 68/6-MeO-BDE 47) were found in females compared to males. Higher Sigma MeO-PBDE concentrations and higher values of the ratios between the lower chlorinated and the higher chlorinated PCBs were found in males than in females. In addition, five out of six significant differences found through discriminant function analysis were gender-related. The literature reports both feeding in mid- to low-latitudes and sex-related differences in migration patterns for humpback whales from the Southern Hemisphere, indicating that the hypothesis of dietary differences between males and females cannot be excluded. Nevertheless, additional studies are required for further investigation of this hypothesis. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.