Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Articles



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Publication Title

Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology



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Elements, Metals, Bowhead whale, Baleen, Arctic, SECLER


This study established the first baseline of changing elemental concentrations in bowhead whale baleen over time (1958–1999). From previously published stable isotope data, year, season (summer or winter), and location (Beaufort or Bering/Chukchi seas) were attributed to each sample. Thirteen elements (Al, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Se, V, Zn) in baleen from nine subsistence-harvested bowhead whales (n = 138) were detected. Al, Cu, and Fe were the highest concentrations while Cd and V were among the lowest. Our data supports absorption as the main route of exposure to environmental elements rather than biomagnification due to bowhead whales’ low trophic position. A linear mixed-effects model confirmed most elements’ concentrations increased with time, while location and sex were insignificant explanatory factors. These temporal fluctuations were most likely a product of environmental changes due to a warming climate and human activities.




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Supplementary file1 (PDF 413 kb)

Additional Comments

This project was supported by Nova Southeastern University’s President’s Faculty Research and Development Grant to the authors. We thank Dr. Matthew Wooller, Norma Haubenstock, and Tim Howe at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Stable Isotope Facility for access to Schell’s samples and sub-sampling assistance. Additional thanks are extended to Dr. Alan Shiller and Melissa Gilbert at the University of Southern Mississippi Center for Trace Analysis.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Peer Reviewed