Concentrations of legacy persistent organic pollutants and naturally produced MeO-PBDEs in dugongs (Dugong dugon) from Moreton Bay, Australia.


Australian Rivers Institute (ARI), Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Queensland 4222, Australia. Electronic address: [Email]


Dugongs (Dugong dugon) are an iconic and strictly herbivorous species. They inhabit coastal areas, which brings them in contact with urban and agricultural pollutant sources, yet their exposure and susceptibility to environmental pollutants is still largely unknown. The goal of this study was to investigate the presence of several legacy compounds such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and pesticides as well as naturally produced MeO-PBDEs in male and female dugongs from Moreton Bay (n = 24), a semi-enclosed embayment close to Australia's third largest city, Brisbane. Results show that concentrations of all investigated compounds are low in general (<120 ng/g lipid weight) and below known toxicity thresholds established for marine mammals. However, concentrations found in this study are higher or comparable to concentrations in dugongs outside Moreton Bay or in sirenians worldwide. No temporal trends for POPs from 2001 until 2012 were found for adult animals suggesting that environmental changes are only slowly reflected in dugongs. Finally, pollutant profiles in dugongs are limited to the most persistent PCBs, pesticides and PBDEs that also dominate POP profiles in other marine mammal species in general.