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Distribution of Organochlorine Pollutants in Atlantic Sea Turtles

Mary J. Rybitski, Robert C. Hale and John A. Musick
Copeia
Vol. 1995, No. 2 (May 3, 1995), pp. 379-390
DOI: 10.2307/1446901
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1446901
Page Count: 12
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Distribution of Organochlorine Pollutants in Atlantic Sea Turtles
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Abstract

Tissues from juvenile loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempi) turtles stranded in Virginia and North Carolina were analyzed by capillary gas chromatography to determine concentrations of organochlorine pollutants. The predominant organochlorines were polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), DDT and its breakdown products, DDE and DDD. Organochlorine concentrations were related to tissue type and relative lipid content. Subcutaneous fat had the highest lipid content (mean = 49.3% wet mass, SD = 19.1) and organochlorine concentrations (mean = 252 μg/kg, SD = 196), followed by liver, kidney, and pectoral muscle. Subsequent analyses of subcutaneous fat and liver from Atlantic loggerheads and Kemp's ridleys yielded a range of organochlorine contaminant concentrations of 55.4-1730 μg/kg and 7.46-607 μg/kg, respectively. Five congener groups accounted for a mean of 66.0% of the total PCBs in the liver (SD = 15.9). A similar pattern was seen in the subcutaneous fat. Congener #153/132 (IUPAC nomenclature) was the major congener group present, followed by #138/158, #180, #118, and #187. Selected sea turtle tissues were extracted using a modified Bligh and Dyer procedure, and lipid classes were examined. Subcutaneous fat contained the highest proportion of triglycerides, followed by liver and pectoral muscle. This pattern corresponds to the pattern of organochlorine accumulation.

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