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The expedition by vessel 'Nikolai Kolomeets'included sampling of marine water, bottom sediments, benthos and plankton for studies of accumulation and transformation of OCs and estimation of related toxic effects on aqueous biocenoses. The marine studies took place during the period July-October 2000 in areas of the Pechora, Kara, Laptev, East-Siberian and Chukchi Seas.
White whale (Delphinapterus leucas) blubber samples from three of the five different Alaskan stocks - Cook Inlet (n = 20), Eastern Chukchi Sea (n = 19) and Eastern Beaufort Sea (n = 2) - were analyzed for levels and patterns of chemical contaminants. Blubber of these whales contained sum PCBs, sum DDTs, sum chlordanes, HCB, dieldrin, mirex, *toxaphene and *HCH, generally in concentration ranges similar to those found in white whales from the Canadian Arctic and lower than those in white whales from the highly contaminated St. Lawrence River. The males of the Cook Inlet and Eastern Chukchi Sea stocks had higher mean concentrations of all contaminant groups than did the females of the same stock, a result attributable to the transfer of these organochlorine contaminants (OCs) from the mother to the calf during pregnancy and during lactation following birth. Principal components analysis of patterns of contaminants present in blubber showed that Cook Inlet stock appeared to have identifiable contaminant patterns that allowed the stock to be distinguished from the others. Our results also showed that blubber from the three Alaskan stocks was a source of contaminant exposure for human subsistence consumers, but the health risks from consumption are currently unknown.
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.
1. Research area # 2 in the 1998/99 Announcement of Opportunity by CIFAR, "Study of anthropogenic influences on the Western Arctic/Bering Sea Ecosystem", and 2. Research area #4 in the 1998/99 Announcement of Opportunity by CIFAR, "Contaminant inputs, fate and effects on the ecosystem" specifically addressing objectives a-c, except "effects." a. "Determine pathways/linkages of contaminant accumulation in species that are consumed by top predators, including humans, and determine sub-regional differences in contaminant levels..." b. "Use an ecosystems approach to determine the effects of contaminants on food web and biomagnification." c. "Encourage local community participation in planning and implementing research strategies." The objectives of Phase I, Human Ecology Research are to: 1. Document reliance by indigenous arctic marine communities in Canada, Alaska and Russia on arctic resources at risk from chemical pollutants; and, 2. Incorporate traditional knowledge systems of subsistence harvesting. The human ecology components of the project were conducted within the frameworks of indigenous environmental knowledge and community participation. Using participatory mapping techniques, semi-structured interviews and the direct participation of community members in research design, data collection and implementation, research and data collection on the human ecology of indigenous arctic marine communities was undertaken in the communities of Holman, NWT (1998), Wainwright, Alaska (1999), and is underway in Novoe Chaplino, Russia. (2000).