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Trace elements in loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) stranded in mainland Portugal: Bioaccumulation and tissue distribution

Nicolau, Lídia, Monteiro, Sílvia S., Pereira, Andreia T., Marçalo, Ana, Ferreira, Marisa, Torres, Jordi, Vingada, José, Eira, Catarina
Chemosphere 2017 v.179 pp. 120-126
Caretta caretta, Crustacea, arsenic, bioaccumulation, cadmium, coasts, copper, diet, juveniles, kidneys, lead, liver, manganese, mercury, muscles, nickel, pollution, sea turtles, selenium, tissue distribution, tissues, zinc, Canary Islands, Portugal
Pollution is among the most significant threats that endanger sea turtles worldwide. Waters off the Portuguese mainland are acknowledged as important feeding grounds for juvenile loggerheads. However, there is no data on trace element concentrations in marine turtles occurring in these waters. We present the first assessment of trace element concentrations in loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) occurring off the coast of mainland Portugal. Also, we compare our results with those from other areas and discuss parameters that may affect element concentrations. Trace element concentrations (As, Cd, Cu, Pb, Mn, Hg, Ni, Se, Zn) were determined in kidney, liver and muscle samples from 38 loggerheads stranded between 2011 and 2013. As was the only element with higher concentrations in muscle (14.78 μg g⁻¹ ww) than in liver or kidney. Considering non-essential elements, Cd presented the highest concentrations in kidney (34.67 μg g⁻¹) and liver (5.03 μg g⁻¹). Only a weak positive link was found between renal Cd and turtle size. Inter-elemental correlations were observed in both liver and kidney tissues. Hepatic Hg values (0.30 ± 0.03 μg g⁻¹) were higher than values reported in loggerheads in the Canary Islands but lower than in Mediterranean loggerheads. Cd concentrations in the present study were only exceeded by values found in turtles from the Pacific. Although many endogenous and exogenous parameters related with complex life cycle changes and wide geographic range may influence trace element accumulation, the concentrations of Cd are probably related to the importance of crustaceans in loggerhead diet in the Portuguese coast.