Selenium and mercury concentrations in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) from central California: health implications in an urbanized estuary

Marine Pollution Bulletin
By: , and 

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Abstract

We measured total selenium and total mercury concentrations ([TSe] and [THg]) in hair (n = 138) and blood (n = 73) of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) from California to assess variation by geography and sex, and inferred feeding relationships based on carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur stable isotopes. Harbor seals from Hg-contaminated sites had significantly greater [THg], and lesser [TSe] and TSe:THg molar ratios than seals from a relatively uncontaminated site. Males had significantly greater [THg] than females at all locations. Sulfur stable isotope values explained approximately 25% of the variability in [THg], indicating increased Hg exposure for seals with a greater use of estuarine prey species. Decreased [TSe] in harbor seals from Hg-contaminated regions may indicate a relative Se deficiency to mitigate the toxic effects of Hg. Further investigation into the Se status and the potential negative impact of Hg on harbor seals from Hg-contaminated sites is warranted.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Selenium and mercury concentrations in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) from central California: Health implications in an urbanized estuary
Series title Marine Pollution Bulletin
DOI 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.04.031
Volume 83
Issue 1
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center, San Francisco Bay-Delta
Description 10 p.
First page 48
Last page 57
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Elkhorn Slough, San Francisco Bay, Tomales Bay