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Mar Pollut Bull. 2004 Feb;48(3-4):295-302.

Increasing levels and biomagnification of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Antarctic biota.

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Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Postfach 120161, D-27515 Bremerhaven, Germany.


Representatives of the Antarctic food web (krill, cephalopod, fish, penguin, seal) of the area around Elephant Island and from the Weddell Sea were analysed for the most recalcitrant organochlorine compounds. Due to sorption of the compounds to sinking particles and accumulation in sediments, two benthic fish species (Gobionotothen gibberifrons, Chaenocephalus aceratus) feeding on benthos invertebrates and fish reflected significantly increasing concentrations within a decade (1987-1996), while a benthopelagic species (Champsocephalus gunnari) feeding on krill did not. In the pelagic food chain, lipid normalised concentrations of all compounds increased from Antarctic krill to fish proving that biomagnification of highly lipophilic pollutants (log octanol-water partition coefficient>5) occurs in water-breathing animals. As top predators Weddell and southern elephant seals (Leptonychotes weddellii, Mirounga leonina) biomagnified the persistent organic pollutants relative to krill 30-160 fold with the exception of hexachlorobenzene, the levels of which were lower than in fish indicating its intense specific elimination.

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