Persistent organic pollutants in marine organisms in the marginal ice zone near Svalbard: Bioconcentration and biomagnification

Updated 2000-11-08

Due to the high organochlorine concentrations reported in Arctic top predators, and the potential transport of contaminants with the drifting sea-ice in the Arctic, organisms constituting lower trophic levels living in association with sea-ice have been proposed as susceptible of uptake of high loads of organic pollutants. The present project studies the organochlorine occurrence in organisms living in the marginal ice zone north of Svalbard and in the Fram Strait. This includes both ice fauna (ice-amphipods), zooplankton, polar cod and different seabird species foraging in the marginal ice zone. Our objectives are to investigate: *The bioaccumulation of organochlorines in ice-associated amphipods in relation to diet preference, spatial variation due to sea ice drift route, size, sampling year, uptake and distribution within the body. *Comparison of organochlorine contamination in pelagic and ice-associated organisms at the similar trophic position, to investigate the effect of sea ice as a transporter and concentrator of pollutants. *Spatial variation in zooplankton species, related to differences in water masses and exposure to first year or multi year sea ice. *The contamination load in different seabirds feeding in the marginal ice zone, in relation to diet choice and estimated trophic position, taxonomically closeness and the induction of hepatic CYP P450 enzymes.

This is not a National Implementation Plan (NIP) project

Time frame

Project time span
1995 - 2002
Data collection
1995 - 1999
Data processing
1995 - 1999
Data reporting
1995 - 1999

Contact information

Contact person
Katrine Borgå
The Norwegian Polar Institute The Polar Environmental Centre N-9296 Tromsø Norway
+47 777 505 35
+47 777 505 01
Other project contacts
Geir Wing Gabrielsen The Polar Environmental Centre N-9296 Tromsø Norway

Parameters and Media

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

Paremeters measured in addition to POPs: EROD activity and testosterone hydroxylase in seabirds. Stable nitrogen and carbon isotopes (co-operation with Haakon Hop at NP). Radiolabelled PCB to study distribution and uptake in ice fauna. Media sampled: The collection of organisms was conducted during cruises in the marginal ice zone in 1998 and 1999. Samples of calanoid copepods (Calanus glacialis, Calanus hyperboreus), euphausiids (Thysanoessa inermis), pelagic and ice-associated amphipods (Parathemisto libellula, Apherusa glacialis, Gammarus wilkitzkii, Onisimus spp.), fish (Boreogadus saida), and seabirds (Alle alle, Cepphus grylle, Uria lomvia, Rissa tridactyla) were collected. Whole organisms are analysed for all taxa except seabirds, where the liver were analysed for POPs and EROD, and muscle for stable isotope analyses.


Regions studied
Barents Sea
Greenland Sea
Other areas
Marginal ice zone in the Barents Sea, north of Svalbard, in the Fram Strait and in the Greenland Sea.
Stations or areas where observations are made

1998 September(from multiyear ice): N8133/E2910 Station I N8055/E1504 Station II N8012/E0002 Station III 1999 May (from first year ice): In the sentral Barent Sea and close to Hopen Island. 1999 September (from multiyear ice): N8227/E3255 Station IV N7645/W0807 Station V

Data availability

Are data archived or planned to be archived at an AMAP Thematic Data Centre?
If no (or only part of data are reported to a TDC), where and how are (other) data stored?
The data are part of the PhD thesis of Katrine Borgå, and will be available through published papers and in thesis by 2002.
References to key publications (or planned publications) and data reports
Biomagnification of organochlorines along a Barents Sea food chain. Katrine Borgå, Geir Wing Gabrielsen, Janneche Utne Skaare. Environmental Pollution, in press. The influence of diet preferences and sea ice drift route on the bioaccumulation of organochlorines in arctic sympagic fauna; Apherusa glacialis, Onisimus spp., and Gammarus wilkitzkii. Katrine Borgå, Michael Poltermann, Anuschka Polder, Olga Pavlova, Bjørn Gulliksen, Geir Wing Gabrielsen, Janneche Utne Skaare. Will be submitted by December 2000. Size-related bioaccumulation and between-year variation of organichlorines in ice-associated amphipods from the Arctic Ocean. Katrine Borgå, Bjørn Gulliksen, Geir Wing Gabrielsen and Janneche Utne Skaare. Organohalogen Compounds, 2000, Vol. 49, 461-464. Size-related bioaccumulation and between-year variation of organichlorines in ice-associated amphipods from the Arctic Ocean Katrine Borgå, Michael Poltermann, Anuschka Polder, Bjørn Gulliksen, Geir Wing Gabrielsen, Janneche Utne Skaare. Submitted to Chemosphere Dioxin Special Issue. The manuscript is based on the extended abstract from the Dioxin 2000 meeting published in Organohalogen Compounds. Zooplankton and polar cod in the marginal ice zone (first-year ice and multi-year ice); accumulation of organochlorines related to diet and abiotic exposure. Katrine Borgå, Geir Wing Gabrielsen, Janneche Utne Skaare. In prep. Arctic seabirds' exposure and accumulation of POPs; trophic position, metabolic capacity (cytochrome P450-mediated enzyme activities) and load of persistent organic pollutants. Katrine Borgå, Geir Wing Gabrielsen, Johannes Wolkers, Haakon Hop, Janneche Utne Skaare. In prep.
Samples/specimens archived in specimen banks?
Specimen banking information

Extracts from all the organochlorine analyses are stored at the Environmental Toxicology Laboratory at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Oslo, Norway. The rest of the seabird carcasses not used are stored at the Norwegian Polar Institute, Tromsø, Norway.

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.

Sampling: Calanoid copepods Calanus hyperboreus stage C V and females were collected with MEGA net (1550 m mesh) and Tucker trawl (2000 m mesh). The samples were stored in polypropylene buckets until processed (identified and sorted under stereoscopic microscopes). Euphausiids (Thysanoessa inermis) and amphipods (Parathemisto libellula) were collected with MEGA net (1550 m mesh), Tucker trawl (2000 m mesh) and bottom trawl. The samples were stored in polypropylene buckets until processed (identified and sorted under stereoscopic microscope, length measurements). Ice fauna (Onisimus glacialis, Onisimus nanseni, Apherusa glacialis and Gammarus wilkitzkii) were collected by divers using suction pumps. The ice stations were on floes consisting of multiyear ice. Polar cod (Boreogadus saida) were collected by divers using hand held nets, and by bottom trawl. We measured the total length of each fish, preserved the stomach on 70% ethanol and dissected the otoliths to store them on glycerol. The rest of the fish was frozen whole at -20 deg.C for analysis of POPs. The seabird species were shot, dissected immediately, and stored frosen until analyses. Organochlorine Analysis: All samples for POPs analysis are stored frozen at -20 deg.C in containers of polypropylene. The analysis of organochlorines were carried out at the Environmental Toxicology Laboratory, The Norwegian College of Veterinary Medicine, Oslo, Norway. Extraction and clean up of the samples were conducted similar to Bernhoft and Skaare (1994) with modifications described in Borgå et al. (submitted to Chemosphere). (Extraction of lipids and organochlorines with cyclohexane and acetone, clean up with concentrated sulphuric acid to remove lipids. Separation of compounds on a high resolution gas chromatograph with electron capture detector (HRGC 5300 Mega Series, Carlo Erba). The compounds were identified by comparison with standards.) The samples were analysed for contents of -, - and -hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), cis-chlordane, trans-chlordane, oxychlordane and trans-nonachlor, the dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane compounds p,p’-DDE, p,p’-DDD, and p,p’-DDT, and PCB congeners 28, 31, 47, 52, 66, 74, 99, 101, 105, 118, 138, 149, 151, 153, 170, 180, 187, 196. CYP P450 Enzymes Analysis: The seabird’s livers were analysed for the activity of testosterone hydroxylation and ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylation (EROD) as described by Wortelboer et al. (1990, Bopchemical Pharmacology, 40, 2525-2534) and Wolkers et al. (1996. Aquatic Toxicology, 35, 127-138). Stable Isotope Analysis: Parallel samples for analysis of stable isotopes were collected for stable isotopes. The analysis of stable isotopes was carried out at The Institute for Energy Technology, Kjeller, Norway.

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

The analytical quality of the Environmental Toxicology Laboratory at the National School of Veterinary Science was approved in international inter-calibration tests. The laboratory is accredited as a testing laboratory for the selected compounds according to requirements of NS-EN 45001 (1989) and ISO/IEC Guide 25 (1990), and the precision, linearity and sensitivity of the present analyses were within the laboratory's accredited requirements.

Additional Information

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

The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Oslo, Norway. The Norwegian School of Fishery Science, University of Tromsø, Norway. Akvaplan-NIVA A/S

Is this project reporting to other organizations/programmes?

The Norwegian Research Council's Ecotoxicology Programme. The Norwegian Ministry of Environment's Transport and Effect Programme

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