The Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) is one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world. The biggest sub-population of the species survives in Greece, where understanding the effects of pollution on the survival of the species has been identified as a national research and conservation priority. From 1990 to 2013 we collected tissue samples from 59 deceased monk seals in order to: (i) Define the concentration of trace elements (As, Pb, Cd, Hg, Se, Cr, Ni) in three different matrices (i.e., blubber, liver and kidney), (ii) Determine whether differences in trace element concentrations are age- or gender-related, (iii) Evaluate the potential effects of these pollutants. The study recorded differences in trace element concentrations among matrices, but in general, trace element exposure in Mediterranean monk seals in Greece was low and within the non-acutely toxic levels for Pinnipeds. Only arsenic concentrations were at the upper limit of the normal range observed in other marine mammals (0.69 ± 0.55 mg/kg w.w. in blubber, 0.79 ± 0.62 mg/kg w.w. in liver and 0.79 ± 0.59 mg/kg w.w. in kidney). We recorded also exceptionally high Hg concentrations in a single adult female (24.88 mg/kg w.w.). Age- and gender-related differences were also recorded and were due to various biological, ecological and chemical factors. Based on the results of the study, potentially adverse effects on the immune and endocrine system of the Mediterranean monk seal from some pollutants (e.g., As, Cd, Se, Ni, Cr) cannot be ruled out, which may expose the Mediterranean seal population in Greece to epizootics and stochastic phenomena of mass mortality. It is therefore of utmost importance that pollutant monitoring becomes an integral component of the standard monitoring protocol of the endangered Mediterranean monk seal in the eastern Mediterranean.
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|Titolo:||Trace element concentrations in the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) in the eastern Mediterranean Sea|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|
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