Organochlorine contaminants in northeast Atlantic minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

Environ Pollut. 1998;101(2):231-9. doi: 10.1016/s0269-7491(98)00043-8.


Blubber samples of 72 minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) were obtained from the northeast Atlantic in July and August 1992, and evaluated for organochlorine contamination. The following organochlorines were determined: the industrial chemicals PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), and the organochlorine pesticides DDTs (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethanes), HCHs (hexachlorocyclohexaneb), HCB (hexachlorobenzene) and CHLs (chlordanes). The concentrations of SigmaPCB (sum of concentrations of 18 PCB congeners) and SigmaDDT (sum of concentrations of p,p'-DDT, p,p'-DDE, p,p'-DDD, o,p'-DDT and o,p'-DDD) ranged from 0.6-20.8 and 0.5-14.8 microg g(-1) lipid weight, with mean concentrations at 3.8 and 2.5 microg g(-1) lipid weight, respectively. The mean concentrations of HCB, the chlordane metabolites oxychlordane, cis-chlordane and trans-nonachlor, and the HCH isomers (alpha-, beta- and gamma-HCH) were all < 1 microg g(-1) lipid weight. Significantly higher concentrations of the three major pollutants (SigmaPCB, SigmaDDT and SigmaCHL) were found in mature males as compared to mature females and juveniles of both sexes. No such relationship was found for SigmaHCH and HCB. Stomach contents of northeast Atlantic minke whales indicate considerable heterogeneity in the diet when comparing different years, seasons and geographical areas. However, without knowing more about the minke whale migration pattern, or possible geographical segregation with age and sex, the interchemical variation of organochlorines between sampling areas may not reflect true geographical differences.