Proposed Abstract Title

Contaminant and health monitoring of endangered Southern Resident killer whales

Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

General contaminant toxicology in aquatic and terrestrial species

Location

2016SSEC

Description

The Environmental Chemistry Program at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center has been analyzing chemical tracers, including environmental pollutants, stable isotope ratios and fatty acids, in support of studies related to NOAA trust resources for more than 40 years. These analyses are conducted for a range of NOAA mission-critical projects such as: ensuring the safety of seafood in response to natural and anthropogenic disasters and providing scientific support on NOAA Natural Resource Damage Assessment litigation-sensitive studies on protected species such as Chinook salmon, marine mammals and sea turtles, and providing data that help describe the population age structure and foraging ecology (including marine distribution) of populations of ESA-listed marine mammals and salmonids. Southern Resident killer whales were listed as endangered in the United States and Canada as a result of the population declining. Since the early 1990s, US and Canadian studies have characterized toxic persistent organic pollutants (POPs) as a threat to this population. As long-lived top predators, Southern Residents are vulnerable to contaminants that occur in urban and industrial areas with high shipping and vessel activities such as Puget Sound where they reside and feed. Studies to date have shown that Southern Residents contain higher POPs concentrations than those in northern residents and other northeastern Pacific killer whale populations, and that contaminant burden and exposure are strongly associated with sex and age. Data have largely been derived from non-lethal remote biopsy samples and analyses conducted on blubber and skin. In addition to POPs, measurements of petroleum related hydrocarbons and total mercury have also been conducted to characterize baseline levels. More recently, investigations have been conducted on feces to investigate POPs as well as reproductive and stress steroids, and on breath samples to investigate pathogenic microbes and antibiotic resistant bacteria, to increase our knowledge on the health of this population.

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Contaminant and health monitoring of endangered Southern Resident killer whales

2016SSEC

The Environmental Chemistry Program at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center has been analyzing chemical tracers, including environmental pollutants, stable isotope ratios and fatty acids, in support of studies related to NOAA trust resources for more than 40 years. These analyses are conducted for a range of NOAA mission-critical projects such as: ensuring the safety of seafood in response to natural and anthropogenic disasters and providing scientific support on NOAA Natural Resource Damage Assessment litigation-sensitive studies on protected species such as Chinook salmon, marine mammals and sea turtles, and providing data that help describe the population age structure and foraging ecology (including marine distribution) of populations of ESA-listed marine mammals and salmonids. Southern Resident killer whales were listed as endangered in the United States and Canada as a result of the population declining. Since the early 1990s, US and Canadian studies have characterized toxic persistent organic pollutants (POPs) as a threat to this population. As long-lived top predators, Southern Residents are vulnerable to contaminants that occur in urban and industrial areas with high shipping and vessel activities such as Puget Sound where they reside and feed. Studies to date have shown that Southern Residents contain higher POPs concentrations than those in northern residents and other northeastern Pacific killer whale populations, and that contaminant burden and exposure are strongly associated with sex and age. Data have largely been derived from non-lethal remote biopsy samples and analyses conducted on blubber and skin. In addition to POPs, measurements of petroleum related hydrocarbons and total mercury have also been conducted to characterize baseline levels. More recently, investigations have been conducted on feces to investigate POPs as well as reproductive and stress steroids, and on breath samples to investigate pathogenic microbes and antibiotic resistant bacteria, to increase our knowledge on the health of this population.