Organochlorine contaminants in blubber of Ringed Seals: Integrating biomonitoring and specimen banking

Updated 2001-03-16

Blubber samples from Alaska ringed seal (Phoca hispida) were collected for inclusion in the US National Biomonitoring Specimen Bank, as well as for immediate analysis as part of the contaminant monitoring component of the US National Marine Fisheries Service's Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. The blubber samples were analyzed for organochlorine (OC) contaminants (e.g., PCB congeners, pesticides, DDTs). Results for ringed seals from the Alaska Arctic revealed low blubber concentrations of OC contaminants. Differences in contaminant concentrations among the Alaska seals may be explained by differences in feeding habits and migratory patterns; age or gender did not appear to account for the differences observed. The integration of real-time contaminant monitoring with specimen banking provides important baseline data that can be used to plan and manage banking activities. This includes identifying appropriate specimens that are useful in assessing temporal trends and increasing the utility of the banked samples in assessing chemical contaminant accumulation and relationships to biological effects.

This is not a National Implementation Plan (NIP) project
Comments and additional information:

Study also included data from harbor seals, Northern fur seals and bearded seals.

Time frame

Status
Ongoing
Project time span
1989 - 1997
Data collection
1989 - 1995
Data processing
1995 - 1997
Data reporting
1995 - 1997

Contact information

Contact person
Margaret M. Krahn
Address
Environmental Conservation Division Northwest Fisheries Science Center National Marine Fisheries Service National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2725 Montlake Boulevard East Seattle, WA 98112 USA.
Phone
+1 206 860 3326
Fax
+1 206 860 3335
Email
vog.aaon@nharK.yggeP
Other project contacts
Karen L. Tilbury John E. Stein Environmental Conservation Division, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, 2725 Montlake Boulevard East, Seattle, WA 98112-2097, USA Paul R. Becker National Institute of Standards and Technology - Charleston Laboratory, 219 Ft. Johnson Road, Charleston, SC 29412-9110, USA

Parameters and Media

Parameter groups measured/observed/modelled
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)
Media sampled/studied/modelled
Marine mammals
Additional information or further specification of types of data / information collected, species / tissues / organs sampled, etc.

Blubber samples from ringed seals, bearded seals, harbor seals and Northern fur seals. Ringed seals (length, age estimated, blubber thickness, blubber samples) at all sites.

Geography

Regions studied
Alaska
Alaska, North Slope
Beaufort Sea
Chukchi Sea
Other areas
Norton Sound
Stations or areas where observations are made

ringed seals (length, age estimated, blubber thickness, blubber samples) at all sites 1.5 miles west of Sledge Island (64.4800° N, 166.2600° W) 10 miles south of Nome (64.3543° N, 165.9992° W) Barrow (71.3333° N, 56.7000° W) Chukchi Sea, Barrow, UIC-NARL A (71.3167° N, 156.8333° W) Chukchi Sea, Barrow, UIC-NARL B (71.3667° N, 156.6167° W) Nome, 3 miles S of Cape Nome (64.3000° N, 156.0000° W) Nome, 4 miles S of Solety? S. (64.3167° N, 164.7333° W) Nome, 4 miles SW of Cape Nome (64.3167° N, 165.2500° W) just off the end of Port Nome (64.4931° N, 165.3984° W) Sledge Island; Nome (64.4850° N, 166.2031° W)

Data availability

Are data archived or planned to be archived at an AMAP Thematic Data Centre?
yes-partly
Data centres
Marine TDC
If no (or only part of data are reported to a TDC), where and how are (other) data stored?
The data for species that are not AMAP species (bearded seals, Northern fur seals and harbor seals) can be obtained by request from the project (primary) contact person.
References to key publications (or planned publications) and data reports
Krahn, M.M., Becker, P.R., Tilbury, K.L. and Stein, J.E. 1997. Organochlorine contaminants in blubber of four seal species: Integrating biomonitoring and specimen banking. Chemosphere 34:2109-2121.
Samples/specimens archived in specimen banks?
Yes
Specimen banking information

The specimen bank is maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) at the US National Biomonitoring Specimen Bank (NBSB) in Gaithersburg, Maryland. This bank includes samples from the contiguous 48 states and also samples collected from Alaska as part of the Alaska Marine Mammal Tissue Archival Project (AMMTAP), which is sponsored by the National Biological Service and managed under the MMHSRP. In light of the substantial increase in human activities in Alaska, the AMMTAP was initiated to establish a representative collection of Alaska marine mammal tissues to document long-term trends in environmental quality (Becker, P.R., Koster, B.J., Wise, S.A. and Zeisler, R. 1993. Biological specimen banking in Arctic research: an Alaska perspective. Sci. Total Environ 139/140:69-95.)

Methods & Procedures

Procedures and methodology used for, e.g., sampling and sample storage, sample pretreatment, extraction and analysis, including which laboratories are involved, references to methods employed, etc.

Duplicate blubber samples from ringed seal were collected for both specimen banking and immediate analyses. Blubber samples were analyzed for OCs and percent lipid following standard methods and quality assurance protocols (Krahn et al., 1988; Sloan et al., 1993). Briefly, samples of thawed tissue (1.0 to 3.0 g) were extracted, macerated with sodium sulfate and methylene chloride and then the methylene chloride extract was filtered through a column of silica gel and alumina and concentrated for further cleanup; the analytical method was slightly modified for the lipid-rich tissue of marine mammals. Size exclusion chromatography with high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) was used to separate lipids and other biogenic material from a fraction containing the OCs. The OC fraction was analyzed by capillary column gas chromatography (GC) equipped with an electron capture detector (ECD). Identification of selected individual OCs was confirmed using GC-mass spectrometry. Krahn, M.M., Moore, L.K., Bogar, R.G., Wigren, C.A., Chan, S.-L. and Brown, D.W. 1988. High-performance liquid chromatographic method for isolating organic contaminants from tissue and sediment extracts. J. Chromatogr. 437:161-175. Sloan, C.A., Adams, N.G., Pearce, R.W., Brown, D.W. and Chan, S.-L. 1993. Northwest Fisheries Science Center Organic Analytical Procedures. pp. 53-96. In: G.G. Lauenstein and A.Y. Cantillo (eds.) Sampling and analytical methods of the National Status and Trends Program: National Benthic Surveillance and Mussel Watch Projects 1984-1992. NOAA Coastal Monitoring and Bioeffects Assessment Division, Office of Ocean Resources Conservation and Assessment, National Ocean Service, Silver Spring, Maryland. 1993pp.

QA/QC Information (what QA/QC procedures are implemented, laboratories involvment in QA/QC activities, model verification/validation routines, etc.)

Blubber samples were analyzed for OCs and percent lipid following standard methods and quality assurance protocols (Krahn et al., 1988; Sloan et al., 1993). Quality assurance procedures included analyses of National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standard reference materials (NIST SRM 1945), a NIST whale blubber control material, certified calibration standards, method blanks, solvent blanks and replicate samples and analytical results met laboratory criteria. In addition, our laboratory participates in NIST and other Quality Assurance Intercomparison Exercises each year. References: Krahn, M.M., Moore, L.K., Bogar, R.G., Wigren, C.A., Chan, S.-L. and Brown, D.W. 1988. High-performance liquid chromatographic method for isolating organic contaminants from tissue and sediment extracts. J. Chromatogr. 437:161-175. Sloan, C.A., Adams, N.G., Pearce, R.W., Brown, D.W. and Chan, S.-L. 1993. Northwest Fisheries Science Center Organic Analytical Procedures. pp. 53-96. In: G.G. Lauenstein and A.Y. Cantillo (eds.) Sampling and analytical methods of the National Status and Trends Program: National Benthic Surveillance and Mussel Watch Projects 1984-1992. NOAA Coastal Monitoring and Bioeffects Assessment Division, Office of Ocean Resources Conservation and Assessment, National Ocean Service, Silver Spring, Maryland. 1993pp.

Additional Information

Is this a bi- AND multi-lateral project (i.e. a project involving cooperation between different countries)?
Yes
Other institutes involved in the project

Charleston Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, 219 Fort Johnson Road, Charleston, SC 29412, USA. Department of Wildlife Management, North Slope Borough, Barrow, AK, USA.

Indigenous AND traditional knowledge used in this project

The animals were collected by indigenous subsistence hunters.

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