Effect of organochlorine contaminants and individual biological traits on blubber retinoid concentrations in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)
Here we assessed retinoids as biomarkers of contaminant exposure by studying whether the sex, age, lipid content and organochlorine concentrations of bottlenose dolphins induced variation in retinoid status and its deposition in blubber. Blubber samples were collected from 47 individuals of known age and gender from Sarasota Bay in June 2000 and 2001. The sample included a representative cross-section of the resident dolphin community, with ages ranging from 2 to 50 years. Organochlorine levels showed the age- and sex-related variation commonly observed in other species, with concentrations increasing in youngsters of both sexes and in adult males, and decreasing in adult females after the onset of maturity. Blubber lipid content was low in the overall population and significantly decreased with age in adult males. Retinoid blubber concentrations were comparable to other odontocete species previously studied, and were strongly determined by lipid content. As a consequence of the latter, retinoid concentration was observed to decrease with age in adult males. This effect could not be statistically dissociated from the negative correlation observed between levels of organochlorines and retinoid blubber concentration. Consequently, we could not clarify whether high organochlorine loads in this population lowered retinoid concentrations or, conversely, whether depleted lipid reserves were indeed responsible for the high organochlorine concentrations and the low retinoid levels detected in blubber. With the current knowledge, both options should be considered and investigated, with initial focus on male dolphins.
Authors: Tornero, Victoria, Borrell, Asuncion, Aguilar, Alex, Wells, Randall S., Forcada, Jaume ORCID record for Jaume Forcada, Rowles, Teri K., Reijnders, Peter J.H.