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Occurrence of organochlorine contaminants (PCBs, PCDDs and PCDFs) and pathologic findings in loggerhead sea turtles, Caretta caretta, from the Adriatic Sea (Mediterranean Sea)

December 16, 2013

Livers of 12 loggerhead sea turtles, Caretta caretta from the Eastern Mediterranean Sea (Adriatic Sea) were analyzed for the presence of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and dibenzofurans (PCDFs). Pathological and microbiological studies were also carried out in order to provide a contribution to the knowledge of causes of Mediterranean turtle death. Boat-strike injuries, entanglement in derelict fishing nets and ingestion of hooks and monofilament lines are the causes of death most frequently observed. PCBs (average: 1399 ng g− 1 fat basis) were the dominant chemicals, followed by PCDFs (average: 61 pg g− 1 fat basic) and PCDDs (average: 16 pg g− 1 fat basis). Hexachlorobiphenyl 153 accounted for the greatest proportion of the total PCBs, followed in order by PCB 138 and PCB 180 (14.1%). Mid-chlorinated, penta-through hepta-PCBs were among the top contributors to the sum of total PCBs, while the homolog pattern of PCCD/Fs was dominated by the tetra- to hexa-substituted congeners. In general the contamination level observed here was comparable with that reported in literature for specimens from different marine areas. Average TEQPCDD/Fs + Dl-PCBs concentration was 27.02 pg g− 1 wet weight (305.1 pg g− 1 lipid weight), with dioxin like-PCBs (93.4%) contributing much more to the total than PCDFs (3.9%) and PCDDs (2.7%). The appreciable concentration of TEQ would at first suggest that there are signs of potential threats to the health of these marine reptiles. Apart from PCBs, this is the first study documenting concentrations of PCDD/Fs in marine turtles from the Mediterranean Sea. Further investigations are urgently needed to characterize their contamination level for a better future protection and conservation of this endangered animal.

Storelli M, Zizzo N, 2014, Occurrence of organochlorine contaminants (PCBs, PCDDs and PCDFs) and pathologic findings in loggerhead sea turtles, Caretta caretta, from the Adriatic Sea (Mediterranean Sea), Science of The Total Environment, 472, 855-861, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.11.137. Article.

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