Organochlorine residues in eggs of Alaskan seabirds

Special Scientific Report - Wildlife 245
By: , and 



One egg from each of 440 clutches of eggs of 19 species of Alaskan seabirds collected in 1973-76 was analyzed for organochlorine residues. All eggs contained DDE; 98.9% contained PCB's; 84.3%, oxychlordane; and 82.7%, HCB. Endrin was found in only one egg, but DDD, DDT, dieldrin, heptachlor epoxide, mirex, cis-chlordane (or trans-nonachlor), cis-nonachlor, and toxaphene each occurred in at least 22% of the samples.Concentrations of organochlorines in the samples were generally low. Mean concentrations of eight compounds were highest in eggs of glaucous-winged gulls (Larus glaucescens) from three sites: DDE (5.16 ppm, wet weight), dieldrin (0.214 ppm), oxychlordane (0.251 ppm), and PCB's (3.55 ppm) in eggs from Bogoslof Island; heptachlor epoxide (0.037 ppm), cis-chlordane (0.075 ppm), and HCB (0.188 ppm) in eggs from Buldir Island; and cis-nonachlor (0.026 ppm) in eggs from the Semidi Islands. Highest concentrations of DDD (0.157 ppm), DDT (0.140 ppm), and toxaphene (0.101 ppm) were in eggs of fork-tailed storm-petrel (Oceanodroma furcata) from Buldir Island, and the highest concentration of mirex (0.044 ppm) was in fork-tailed storm-petrel eggs from the Barren Islands.Both frequency of occurrence and concentration of residues in the eggs differed geographically and by species, apparently reflecting non-uniform distribution of organochlorines in the environment, dissimilar feeding habits and migration patterns of the species, or metabolic differences among the species.The overall frequency of residue occurrence was highest in eggs from the Pribilof Islands, but only three species were represented in the samples collected there. Detectable residues also were more frequent in eggs from the Gulf of Alaska colonies than elsewhere, and the lowest frequency was in eggs from nesting colonies on or near the Seward Peninsula. Regionally, concentrations of DDE and PCB's were usually higher than average in eggs from the Gulf of Alaska and lower than average in eggs from the Aleutian Islands and Bristol Bay. However, within some species there were exceptions to this general pattern, and mean concentrations of most chemicals differed from one site to another within the same region.Among eggs of species collected in two or more regions, residue frequencies were highest in those of the fork-tailed storm-petrel, tufted puffin (Lunda cirrhata), horned puffin (Fratercula corniculata), pelagic cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus), and northern fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis), and lowest in those of common murre (Uria aalge), black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla), double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus), and thick-billed murre (Uria lomvia).On a regional basis, mean concentrations of DDE and PCB's varied significantly among species, but there were few consistent patterns of species differences, except that levels of DDE were always lowest in black-legged kittiwakes and concentrations of PCB's were usually lowest in murres. Also, concentrations of both chemicals (except PCB's in the Gulf of Alaska) were usually higher in northern fulmars than in other species, and the highest concentrations of both DDE and PCB's found in this study were in glaucous-winged gulls in the Aleutian Islands.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Title Organochlorine residues in eggs of Alaskan seabirds
Series title Special Scientific Report - Wildlife
Series number 245
Year Published 1982
Language English
Publisher U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Publisher location Washington, DC
Contributing office(s) Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Description 41 pp.
First page 0
Last page 41