Since 1987, the Alaska Marine Mammal Tissue Archival Project (AMMTAP) has collected tissues from 18 marine mammal species. Specimens are archived in the National Institute of Standards and Technology's National Biomonitoring Specimen Bank (NIST-NBSB). AMMTAP has collected blubber, liver and/or kidney specimens from a number of ringed seals (Phoca hispida) from the areas near Nome and Barrow, Alaska and walruses (Odobenus rosmarus) from several locations in the Bering Sea. Thirty-three ringed seal and 15 walrus blubber samples from the NIST-NBSB were analyzed for persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The compounds determined included PCBs (28 congeners or congener groups), DDT and related compounds, hexachlorobenzene (HCB), hexachlorocyclohexane isomers (HCHs), chlordanes, dieldrin, and mirex. POP concentrations in ringed seal blubber were significantly higher in Barrow than in Nome when statistically accounting for the interaction of age and gender; HCB, however, was not statistically different between the two locations. Unlike males, POP concentrations and age were not significantly correlated in females probably as a result of lactational loss. POP concentrations in walrus blubber were lower than in ringed seal blubber for ΣPCBs, chlordanes, and HCHs, but higher for dieldrin and mirex. POP concentrations in ringed seals and walrus from Alaska provide further evidence that the western Arctic tends to have lower or similar POP concentrations compared to the eastern Canadian Arctic.
Additional publication details
Persistent organic pollutants in Alaskan ringed seal (Phoca hispida) and walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) blubber