Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science

Degree Name

Marine Science

First Advisor

Dimitrios Giarikos, Ph. D.

Second Advisor

Amy Hirons, Ph. D.

Third Advisor

Jessica Brown, Ph. D.

Fourth Advisor

Stephen Trumble, Ph. D.


Persistent organic pollutants (POP) have been detected and analyzed in various baleen whale tissues (blubber, muscles, liver, etc.) This study concentrated on detecting 7 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and 14 organochlorine pesticides from baleen, a baleen whale tissue never before analyzed for POPs. These data were used to investigate temporal and geographic trends by sampling at every 1 cm interval along the length of the baleen plate. Four species of baleen whales stranded in the North Pacific Ocean were included in this study: gray (n=2), humpback (n=2), minke (n=1), and blue (n=1) whales. Organic contaminant concentrations were analyzed with respect to foraging style and habitat differences among the species included. Oscillating periods of high and low contaminant concentrations were found along the length of the baleen in all four whale species indicating these migratory animals are experiencing periods of time with increased POP exposure. While no significant differences were found among POP concentrations tested based on foraging style (benthic vs. lunge), ΣHCH did differ between habitat groups, with the pelagic foragers (minke, blue) having a significantly greater geometric mean concentrations than the neritic (gray, humpback) habitat group. All organic contaminant concentrations were low (ND-77.4 ng/g), likely due to the low trophic position of baleen whales and the keratinous tissue the POPs were extracted from.