Fresenius Environmental Bulletin (2006)


Mercury concentrations in some key tissues (liver, kidney, small intestine, stomach, blubber and brain) of five Yangtze finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides asiaeorientalis), accidentally died in the Eastern Dongting Lake of China between 1998 and 2004, were investigated using Atomic Fluorescent Spectrometry (AFS). Total mercury (T-Hg) concentrations ranged between 0.17 to 181 μg g-1 wet weight, and varied significantly in different tissues. Liver is the most preferable target organ for mercury accumulation, although the highest T-Hg concentrations were not found exclusively in liver, but also in kidney and small intestine in some individuals. Moreover, it was demonstrated that mercury concentrations increased positively with age of the animals. However, the highest T-Hg concentrations in liver and kidney were both found in a 2-month-old calf, which implied that the transfer efficiency of mercury from mothers to babies in Yangtze finless porpoise is remarkable. And what is more important, it seems that the Yangtze finless porpoise in Eastern Dongting Lake had much higher T-Hg levels than those reported for other Phocoenidae species. To be noticed, the T-Hg was accumulated tremendously from aquatic environment to the Yangtze finless porpoise’s liver, reaching a bioaccumulation factor (BAF) of 4.3×105 in the Eastern Dongting Lake ecosystem.