Journal : Environmental Pollution (1987) , vol. 121 , p. 239–252 , 2003
Publisher : Elsevier
International Standard Numbers
Printed : 0269-7491
Electronic : 1873-6424
Publication type : Academic article
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Regional variation in PCBs and organochlorine (OC) pesticide concentrations was examined using the blubber of 155 minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) sampled in seven regions in the North Atlantic and European Arctic, including western and southeastern Greenland, the Norwegian Sea, the North Sea and the Barents Sea. The levels and relative proportions of OCs were also used to examine the boundaries for North Atlantic minke whale stocks previously defined by the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Concentrations of major OC groups (SigmaPCB, 89.1-22 800 ng/g lipid; SigmaDDT, 65.3-6280 ng/g lipid; SigmaCHL, 33.3-2110 ng/g lipid) generally increased from west to east, while HCH concentrations (SigmaHCH, < 1-497 ng/g lipid) showed the opposite trend. Statistical comparison between six regions using sex-adjusted least squared mean concentrations showed that minke whales from the Barents Sea had significantly higher concentrations of SigmaPCBs than those from the Vestfjorden/Lofoten, the North Sea, and west Svalbard, as well as significantly higher SigmaDDT concentrations compared to west Greenland animals. The differences in concentrations suggest that west and southeast Greenland minkes may represent one group of whales, which are distinct from both the Jan Mayen minkes and those from other IWC defined stocks in northern European waters. Principal components analysis using proportions of 71 PCB congeners and 20 OC pesticides (of total OCs) did not reveal any major differences among groups although minkes from the North Sea were distinguished from those from Greenland waters by higher loadings of more highly chlorinated PCBs and recalcitrant OC pesticides. The general similarity in mean levels of SigmaPCBs, SigmaDDT and SigmaCHL, as well as mean principal components analysis scores, among minkes sampled at Jan Mayen, Svalbard, Vestfjorden/Lofoten, the North Sea and the Barents Sea suggests that the whales are quite mobile and may feed in multiple areas within the northeastern Atlantic.