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As a freshwater cetacean with a population of only approximately 1000 individuals, the Yangtze finless porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaeorientalis) is threatened by water pollution. However, studies of contaminants accumulated in the Yangtze finless porpoise remain limited. In this study, concentrations of 11 trace elements in different tissues sampled from 38 Yangtze finless porpoise individuals were determined. The elements V, Ni, Zn, and Pb were mostly accumulated in the epidermis, Cr, Mn, Cu, Se, and Hg were mostly accumulated in the liver, while As and Cd were mostly accumulated in the blubber and kidney, respectively. The results show that trace elements concentrations in the epidermis do not reliably indicate concentrations in internal tissues of the Yangtze finless porpoises. Positive correlations between different trace elements concentrations in tissues with the highest concentrations suggested the similar mechanism of metabolism or uptake pathway of those elements. Concentrations of As, Se, Cd, Hg, and Pb in the tissues with the highest concentrations were significantly positively correlated with the body length. Furthermore, significantly higher trace elements concentrations were measured in the reproductive organs of females (ovaries) than males (testis). However, no significant difference of trace elements concentrations between habitats was found. In consideration of higher Hg and Cd level in Yangtze finless porpoises compared to other small cetaceans, the potential risk of Hg (in particular) and Cd toxicity to Yangtze finless porpoises needs further attention.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: The Science of the total environment
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