Stable isotope ratios and mercury levels in red meat products from baleen whales sold in Japanese markets
ABSTRACT We analyzed the δ(13)C, δ(15)N and δ(18)O values and Hg concentration in red meat products originating from the predominant types sold in Japan for human consumption: two populations of common minke (J- and O-types), Bryde's and sei whales in the western North Pacific Ocean, and fin and Antarctic minke whales in the Southern Ocean. The order of the trophic positions, evaluated by δ(15)N values and Hg concentrations, coincided with their known feeding habits: common minke (J-type)=common minke (O-type)> Bryde's ≥ sei ≥ Antarctic minke ≥ fin. The Hg concentrations in the combined samples from the six samples were significantly correlated with their δ(15)N values (γ=0.455, n=66, p<0.05), reflecting overall differences in the trophic level. This correlation was not significant for within-species comparison for the common minke (J- and O-types) or the Bryde's whale, probably reflecting the higher δ(15)N value and lower Hg concentration in the North Pacific Ocean around Japan. Determination of δ(13)C, δ(15)N and δ(18)O could be used to discriminate between the red meat products originating from the whale species in the North Pacific and Southern Oceans. However, the four whale species or populations in the Pacific Ocean could not be discriminated on basis of these values, nor could the two species in the Southern Ocean. Positive correlations between the δ(13)C and δ(15)N values and negative correlations between the δ(15)N and δ(18)O values and the δ(13)C and δ(18)O values, probably reflecting migration patterns, were found in some whale species in the North Pacific and Southern Oceans.
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ABSTRACT: The food and feeding ecology of the poorly known southern long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas edwardii) was investigated using ecological tracers (muscle and skin δ13C and δ15N, and total mercury, Hg) on individuals from two mass strandings together with at-sea observations of live animals in Kerguelen waters, southern Indian Ocean. Sightings of cetaceans from longliners over 9 years (2003–2012) emphasized the regular occurrence of pilot whales in slope waters surrounding the archipelago. Tissue δ13C values (a proxy of consumer foraging habitat) suggest that pilot whales fed in slope waters and in oceanic subantarctic waters over the last months preceding stranding. Tissue δ15N values and Hg concentration (dietary proxies) indicate a high trophic position (~4.7) for the pilot whales, likely corresponding to a mixed diet of fish and squid (not crustaceans) of undetermined species. Both skin and muscle Hg concentrations were positively and linearly correlated to individual size with no concomitant δ15N changes, which can be interpreted as a progressive Hg accumulation in tissues of individuals throughout life with no parallel dietary shift. Skin and muscle Hg concentrations were linearly and positively related; hence, Hg skin could be used as a proxy of Hg concentration in muscle (a main Hg reservoir of the body). Kerguelen southern longfinned pilot whales were less Hg contaminated than most pilot whale populations studied so far, thus suggesting that they are not at a high risk to Hg-induced damages in the remote islands of the Southern Ocean.Marine Biology 01/2015; 1(162):207-219. DOI:10.1007/s00227-014-2587-3 · 2.39 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: We analyzed δ(13)C, δ(15)N and δ(18)O in the muscle and liver from killer whales stranded on the coast of Japan. The δ(15)N values in the muscle samples from calves were apparently higher than those in their lactating mothers, suggesting that nursing may result in the higher δ(15)N values in the muscle samples of calves. The δ(15)N value in the muscle samples of male and female whales, except for the calves, were positively correlated with the δ(13)C values and body length, suggesting that the increases in δ(15)N were due to the growth of the whales and increase in their trophic level. In contrast, the δ(18)O values in the muscle samples of female whales except for the calves were negatively correlated with the δ(13)C and δ(15)N values. The δ(18)O may be lower in whales occupying higher trophic positions (δ(15)N), although it might also be affected by geographic and climatic conditions.Marine Pollution Bulletin 07/2014; 86(1-2). DOI:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.07.012 · 2.79 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: We analyzed stable isotope ratios of carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) as well as mercury (Hg) concentration in the scalp hair of Japanese who consumed whale meat and those who did not, and investigated the relationships among the δ13C and δ15N values and Hg concentration. The average δ15N and δ13C values of whale meat-eaters (10.11‰ and -18.5‰) were significantly higher than those of non-eaters (9.28‰ and -18.9‰), respectively. The average Hg concentration of whale meat-eaters (20.6μg/g) was significantly higher than that of non-eaters (2.20μg/g). Significant positive correlations were found between the δ13C and δ15N values and between the δ15N value and Hg concentration in the hair of whale meat-eaters, while the correlation between the δ15N value and Hg concentration was not statistically significant in the non-eaters. The consumption of whale meat may increase Hg concentration as well as δ15N and δ13C values in scalp hair.Marine Pollution Bulletin 02/2013; 69(1-2). DOI:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.01.018 · 2.79 Impact Factor