Author(s): Fossi MC, Marsili L, Neri G, Casini S, Bearzi G,
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Abstract Various studies on Mediterranean cetaceans have revealed bioaccumulation of contaminants such as organochlorines (OCs) and heavy metals. The susceptibility of these animals to organic pollutants and the relationship between bioaccumulation and population decline (as in the case of Delphinus delphis) are unexplored fields. In this study, we used a non-destructive approach (skin biopsy) to explore OC bioaccumulation processes and mixed-function oxidase activity (BPMO) in four species of cetaceans: striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), common dolphin (D. delphis) and fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus). Significant differences in BPMO induction and OC levels were found between odontocetes and mysticetes, the former having mixed-function oxidase activities four times higher than the latter, binding with levels of OCs one order of magnitude higher in odontocetes. A significant correlation (P < 0.05) between BPMO activities and OC levels was found in B. physalus. In an ongoing project, fibroblast cultures have been used as an alternative in vitro method of evaluating interspecies susceptibility to contaminants such as OCs and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These results suggest that cetacean skin biopsies are a powerful non-invasive tool for assessing ecotoxicological risk to Mediterranean marine mammals species.
This article was published in Mar Environ Res
and referenced in Journal of Biodiversity & Endangered Species