Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were measured in plasma samples of 162 juvenile loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) from Canary Islands, and 205 adult nesting loggerheads from Cape Verde. All the 367 samples showed detectable values of some type of PAH. Phenanthrene was the PAH most frequently detected and at the highest concentration in both populations. Median concentrations of ∑PAHs in the plasma of loggerheads from the Canary Islands and Cape Verde were similar (5.5 and 4.6 ng/ml, respectively). Di- and tri-cyclic PAHs were predominant in both populations suggesting petrogenic origin rather than urban sources of PAHs. In the group of turtles from Canary Islands, there was evident an increasing level of contamination over the last few years. The present study represents the first data of contamination by PAHs in sea turtles from the studied areas.
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