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WP5 Wildlife Ecotoxicology
() Non-lethal monitoring of trace elements in bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus.
Bryan, C1, 2, Christopher, S2, Hohn, A3, Wells, R4, 1 The Graduate Program in Marine Biology, College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, USA2 National Institute of Standards and Technology, Charleston, South Carolina, USA3 NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC, Beaufort, North Carolina, USA4 Chicago Zoological Society c/o Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota, Florida, USA
ABSTRACT- Several major unusual mortality events have occurred in the past 17 years that have increased the level of concern for the health of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) populations along the east coast of the United States and in the Gulf of Mexico. Continuing risk management studies should benefit from real-time, non-lethal monitoring and contaminant sampling strategies to assess marine mammal health through living animals before disease or unusual mortality events occur. This study focuses on the development and application of accurate analytical methods for determination of trace elements in bottlenose dolphin tissues (blood and skin) as part of a series of dolphin health assessment projects to survey the health of various wild dolphin populations comprising the eastern U.S. inshore coastal stocks. Whole blood samples collected since 2002 from live capture/release events in Sarasota, Florida and New Jersey are being analyzed for trace elements by Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICPMS). To date, trace element research has not been conducted on bottlenose dolphin blood with the exception of mercury, so obtaining accurate baseline information is crucial. Essential trace elements such as Cu, Se and Zn are being measured along with known toxic trace elements such as As, Pb, and Cd. Direct blood solubilization methods have been developed and successfully validated against traditional microwave dissolution methods. A small subset (2 female and 2 male dolphins) of the 43 blood samples collected to date have been analyzed. Preliminary data shows significant variation between levels of trace elements among individual dolphins. For example, As, Se, Cu, and Zn ranged from 48-81 ng/g, 603-864 ng/g, 753-1252 ng/g, and 2566-3503 ng/g respectively. It is expected that patterns will emerge when trace element data are evaluated in the context of complementary health and immunotoxicological data and life history traits.
Key words: tursiops truncatus, dolphin, trace elements, blood
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