Concentration of trace elements in long-finned pilot whales stranded in northern Patagonia, Chile.

Affiliation

Melimoyu Ecosystem Research Institute, Fundación MERI, Santiago 7650720, Chile; CIFAMAC (Centro de Investigación de Fauna Marina y Avistamiento de Cetáceos), Mejillones, Chile. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

The use of trace metals and rare-earth elements (REEs) is increasing in the mining, metallurgic, electronic, and automobile industries due to their magnetic, heat-resistant, and phosphorescent properties. While large amounts of these metals are released to the environment, the toxic consequences in marine organisms are poorly understood. In Chile a mass stranding event of long-finned pilot whales (LFPW) (Globicephala melas) occurred in 2016 due to unknown consequences. Al, Ce, Cr, Cu, Tl, and Zn concentrations were analyzed in LFPW blubber tissue and correlated with body size and age class of individuals. While Al and Zn were higher in juvenile individuals, Ce, Cu, Cr, and Tl were higher in adults. This study provides the first base line of trace metals and REE in LFPW from the southern hemisphere and demonstrates the existence and persistence of trace elements in marine top predators from remote ecosystems like the Chilean Patagonia.

Keywords

Heavy metals,Massive mortalities,Patagonia,Pilot whales,Pollution,Rare-earth elements,Trace elements,

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