Event Title

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the Puget Sound Ecosystem: An evaluation of POPs in fecal samples of Southern Resident killer whales

Presentation Abstract

The Puget Sound ecosystem of Washington State has been riddled with human impacts. Exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is listed as a primary risk factor for the endangered Southern Resident killer whale (SRKWs, Orcinus orca) population that resides in these waters. The objective of this study is to obtain real-time measures of POP (PBDEs, PCBs, and DDTs) levels in SRKW scat (fecal) samples to quantify variations in toxicant levels by pod, age, sex, reproductive status, and birth order, as well as prey availability and year. Samples were collected using detection dogs that ride on the bow of a boat and use scent to locate fresh scat on the water’s surface. Using this non-invasive method we collected 267 samples over 4 years (2010-2013) across our 5-month study period. In our validation study using samples from 14 individual whales, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry was used to quantify contaminant levels, reproductive and thyroid hormones measurements were measured by radioimmunoassay, and species/individual was confirmed by DNA analysis. Significant correlations were apparent between toxicant measurements in scat and previously analyzed blubber-biopsy samples from the same whale (n=7 unique pairs; ∑PCBs, r=0.75, p=0.05; ∑PBDEs, r=0.76, p=0.05; ∑DDTs, r=0.92, p < 0.01). Consistent with blubber biopsy measurements, the toxicant profiles in scat samples demonstrate significantly higher ∑DDT/∑PCB ratios in K and L pods, known to forage off the California coast, compared to J pod (p=0.02 and 0.02, respectively), and significantly lower (p < 0.05) levels of ∑PCB, ∑PBDE, and ∑DDT were detected in reproductive age females compared to males and post-reproductive females, adjusted for pod. These validated measures will be applied to all samples to investigate temporal patterns and variations in toxicant levels relative to population demographics, hormones measures, and environmental factors. Results are forthcoming and will be presented at the conference.

Session Title

Session S-05B: Water Quality II

Conference Track

Toxics

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (2014 : Seattle, Wash.)

Document Type

Event

Start Date

1-5-2014 10:30 AM

End Date

1-5-2014 12:00 PM

Location

Room 608-609

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

Text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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May 1st, 10:30 AM May 1st, 12:00 PM

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the Puget Sound Ecosystem: An evaluation of POPs in fecal samples of Southern Resident killer whales

Room 608-609

The Puget Sound ecosystem of Washington State has been riddled with human impacts. Exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is listed as a primary risk factor for the endangered Southern Resident killer whale (SRKWs, Orcinus orca) population that resides in these waters. The objective of this study is to obtain real-time measures of POP (PBDEs, PCBs, and DDTs) levels in SRKW scat (fecal) samples to quantify variations in toxicant levels by pod, age, sex, reproductive status, and birth order, as well as prey availability and year. Samples were collected using detection dogs that ride on the bow of a boat and use scent to locate fresh scat on the water’s surface. Using this non-invasive method we collected 267 samples over 4 years (2010-2013) across our 5-month study period. In our validation study using samples from 14 individual whales, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry was used to quantify contaminant levels, reproductive and thyroid hormones measurements were measured by radioimmunoassay, and species/individual was confirmed by DNA analysis. Significant correlations were apparent between toxicant measurements in scat and previously analyzed blubber-biopsy samples from the same whale (n=7 unique pairs; ∑PCBs, r=0.75, p=0.05; ∑PBDEs, r=0.76, p=0.05; ∑DDTs, r=0.92, p < 0.01). Consistent with blubber biopsy measurements, the toxicant profiles in scat samples demonstrate significantly higher ∑DDT/∑PCB ratios in K and L pods, known to forage off the California coast, compared to J pod (p=0.02 and 0.02, respectively), and significantly lower (p < 0.05) levels of ∑PCB, ∑PBDE, and ∑DDT were detected in reproductive age females compared to males and post-reproductive females, adjusted for pod. These validated measures will be applied to all samples to investigate temporal patterns and variations in toxicant levels relative to population demographics, hormones measures, and environmental factors. Results are forthcoming and will be presented at the conference.