Environmental Pollution (2004)

DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2003.09.011


During the 1995 hunting season, 75 harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) were sampled in three locations in West Greenland: Maniitsoq, Nuuk, and Paamiut. Sex, age, morphometrics, reproductive condition, and organochlorine compound (OC) levels in blubber were determined for each individual. OC levels were extremely low and, therefore considered unlikely to affect the population adversely: mean blubber concentrations, expressed on lipid weight basis were 1.98 (S.D.=1.1) mg/kg for PCBs, 2.76 (S.D.=1.66) mg/kg for tDDT and 0.21 (S.D.=0.11) mg/kg for HCB. No statistical differences were observed among individuals caught in the various locations. OC concentrations showed statistically significant positive associations with age in males but negative in females; consequently, mature females presented lower pollutant loads than their male counterparts. Juveniles did not show differences between sexes. A higher proportion of less chlorinated and more metabolizable polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) compared to tPCBs was found in calves (age<=1) than in mature females, indicating that the feeding habits of these two groups differ and that a greater transfer of less chlorinated compounds is passed from females to their pups through lactation and parturition. Harbour porpoises significantly contribute to the dietary intake of OCs by local Inuit populations. This contribution could be reduced if mature males were selectively avoided; however, current hunting procedures make this selection impracticable.