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First detection of short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) in humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) foraging in Antarctic waters

Casà, Maria Valeria, van Mourik, Louise M., Weijs, Liesbeth, Mueller, Jochen, Nash, Susan Bengtson
Environmental pollution 2019 v.250 pp. 953-959
Megaptera novaeangliae, alkanes, blubber, carbon, coasts, ecosystems, foraging, whales, Antarctic region, Antarctica, Arctic region, Australia
Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) are particularly prone to environmental dispersal through long range atmospheric transport. Consequently, they have been detected in biota and environmental matrices at both the North Pole and South Pole. This study shows the first detection of SCCPs in southern hemisphere humpback whales feeding in Antarctic waters. Blubber of specimens stranded along the Australian coastline was analysed and SCCPs were detected in 7 out of 9 individuals. Levels of SCCPs detected in this study were generally low with concentrations up to only 46 ng/g lw. These results were significantly lower than those detected in Northern Hemisphere odontocetes from previous studies, although no reported burdens in northern hemisphere baleen whales are available for comparison. Both the highest level and lowest (<MDL) were measured in calves-of-the-year. Congener group profile in the samples showed that the predominant carbon chain length was C11, followed by C10 = C12 > C13. Further investigation is needed in order to evaluate the presence and distribution of SCCPs in the remote Antarctica ecosystem, and delineate longer term environmental consequences of recent inclusion of SCCPs under Annex A of the Stockholm Convention, securing their phase out in ratifying nations.