MEPS 453:263-277 (2012)  -  doi:10.3354/meps09658

Predicted polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) accumulation in southern resident killer whales

Teresa M. Mongillo1,3,5,*, Elizabeth E. Holmes2, Dawn P. Noren2, Glenn R. VanBlaricom1,3, André E. Punt1, Sandra M. O’Neill2, Gina M. Ylitalo2, M. Bradley Hanson2, Peter S. Ross4

1University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-5020, USA
2Northwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, Seattle, Washington 98112, USA
3Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, US Geological Survey, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA
4Institute of Ocean Sciences, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Sidney, British Columbia V8L 4B2, Canada
5Present address: Northwest Regional Office, NOAA Fisheries, Seattle, Washington 98115, USA

ABSTRACT: Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are anthropogenic contaminants that bioaccumulate in upper trophic level species. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are POPs of particular concern because they can induce immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity, and reproductive impairment. Killer whales Orcinus orca can accumulate high concentrations of POPs because they are long-lived apex predators. Southern resident killer whales (SRKWs) are an endangered fish-eating population that consists of 3 pods (J, K, and L) with a geographic range from central California, USA, to the Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada. An individual-based modeling approach was used to predict the accumulation of sum PBDEs (ΣPBDEs) and sum PCBs (ΣPCBs) in specific individuals in the SRKW population. Model predictions for the current concentrations corresponded closely to the concentrations measured in biopsies collected from known individuals. The predicted ΣPBDE concentrations over the life-span of individual killer whales were consistent with a doubling time of ~3 to 4 yr, highlighting the rapid emergence of PBDEs as a priority concern in these animals. J pod individuals had the highest predicted ΣPBDE and ΣPCB concentrations, likely due to their increased residence time near industrial centers. Modeled historical ΣPCB concentrations did not increase substantially over time or with age in males born after 1970, whereas the ΣPBDE concentrations increased over time and with age. In general, modeled future projections indicated that the average male and female had similar ΣPBDE trends with age, time, and diet scenario. Future ΣPCBs are predicted to slowly decline; however, SRKWs will continue to be exposed for several generations.

KEY WORDS: PCB · PBDE · Bioaccumulation · Killer whale · Model · Contaminants · Persistent organic pollutants

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Cite this article as: Mongillo TM, Holmes EE, Noren DP, VanBlaricom GR and others (2012) Predicted polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) accumulation in southern resident killer whales. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 453:263-277

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