Tributyltin (TBT) and its degradation products, mono- (MBT) and dibutyltin (DBT), were determined in liver, kidney, and brain tissues of adult southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) found dead along the coast of California during 1992a??1996. Hepatic concentrations of butyltin compounds (BTs = MBT + DBT + TBT) ranged from 40 to 9200 ng/g wet wt, which varied depending on the sampling location and gender. Concentrations of BTs in sea otters were comparable to those reported in stranded bottlenose dolphins from the U.S. Atlantic Coast during 1989a??1994. Greater accumulation of butyltins in sea otters was explained by their bottom-feeding habit and the diet that consists exclusively of invertebrates such as mollusks and gastropods. Livers of female sea otters contained approximately 2-fold greater concentrations of BTs than did those of males. The composition of butyltin compounds in sea otter tissues was predominated by TBT in most cases and suggestive of recent exposure. Large harbors such as Monterey Harbor that handle ships legally painted with TBT-containing antifouling paints continued to experience ecotoxicologically significant butyltin contamination. Sea otters, which were affected by infectious diseases, contained greater concentrations of BTs in their tissues than those that died from trauma and other unknown causes.
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Butyltin residues in southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) found dead along California coastal waters