Perfluoroalkyl compounds in relation to life-history and reproductive parameters in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from Sarasota Bay, Florida, U.S.A

Environ Toxicol Chem. 2006 Sep;25(9):2405-12. doi: 10.1897/05-499r.1.


Perfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs) were determined in plasma, milk, and urine of free-ranging bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from Sarasota Bay (FL, USA) during three winter and two summer capture-and-release programs (2002-2005). Plasma and urine samples were extracted using an ion-pairing method. Perfluoroalkyl compounds were extracted from milk samples using acetonitrile, and extracts were cleaned with graphitized nonporous carbon. All extracts were analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Mean seasonal sum of PFCs (sigma PFCs) detected in dolphin plasma ranged from 530 to 927 ng/g wet weight. No significant differences (p > 0.05) were found in concentrations between seasons, suggesting a constant exposure to PFCs. Overall, blubber thickness of dolphins did not correlate with PFC concentrations in plasma, suggesting an absence of PFC sequestration in blubber. Sexually immature calves (age, <10 years; mean sigma PFCs, 1,410 +/- 780 ng/ g wet wt) were significantly more contaminated (p < 0.001) than their mothers (mean sigma PFCs, 366 +/- 351 ng/g wet wt). The reproductive history of females had a significant role in the burden of PFC contamination; PFC concentrations in nulliparous females (females that have not been observed with calves) were significantly greater than those detected in uniparous females (females that have been observed with one calf), suggesting an off-loading of PFCs during or after parturition. To investigate this hypothesis, PFCs were analyzed in milk samples (n=10; mean sigma PFCs, 134 +/- 76.1 ng/g wet wt), confirming a maternal transfer of PFCs through lactation in dolphins. Results from the present study showed that young and developing bottlenose dolphins are highly exposed to PFCs. These chemicals also were detected in urine (mean sigma PFCs, 26.6 +/- 79 ng/g wet wt), indicating that the urinary system is an important pathway of PFC depuration in dolphins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Bottle-Nosed Dolphin / growth & development*
  • Environmental Monitoring* / methods
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Fluorocarbons / blood
  • Fluorocarbons / toxicity*
  • Fluorocarbons / urine
  • Male
  • Milk / chemistry
  • Reproduction / drug effects*
  • Seasons
  • Time Factors
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / blood
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / urine
  • Water Pollution, Chemical


  • Fluorocarbons
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical