Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mercury contamination found in stranded Victorian dolphins

10.06.2008
Monash University research into heavy metal contaminant levels in dolphins from Port Phillip Bay and the Gippsland Lakes has revealed high mercury levels may be a contributing factor to dolphin deaths

Monash University research into heavy metal contaminant levels in dolphins from Port Phillip Bay and the Gippsland Lakes has revealed high mercury levels may be a contributing factor to dolphin deaths.

Researchers from the School of Biological Sciences have confirmed levels of mercury found in the dolphins were within a range considered to cause negative health and mental effects and were higher than mercury levels found in populations around the world.

Supervisory researcher Dr Ross Thompson said the mercury concentrations in 20 live and eight dolphins which died after becoming stranded, collected over the last two years, were measured by Honours student Alissa Monk. Levels in the dead dolphins averaged 3.45 milligrams of mercury per kilogram of tissue compared to 1.32 mg/kg in living dolphins.

"Mercury levels detected are sufficient to cause significant health impacts and were comparable to those found in areas of the world that are considered highly polluted, including the Mediterranean Sea," Dr Thompson said.

Mercury has been shown in previous national studies to bioaccumulate in dolphins, but this is the first study to find particularly high levels in stranded animals in coastal Victoria. Bioaccumulation is the food chain process whereby smaller fish containing mercury are eaten by larger mercury contaminated fish, which are then consumed by dolphins, who can consume up to ten kilograms of fish a day. Mercury levels found in fish were considered low (

"Dolphins may be becoming stranded as a direct consequence of mercury contamination which damages their neurological system. They become potentially confused and disorientated, and strand themselves. Even the apparently healthy dolphins had high levels of mercury which put them at risk of future health complications," Dr Thompson said.

Dr Thompson said mercury is likely to have come from the sediments of the Bay and researchers are concerned that dredging activities may increase the dolphins' exposure.

"Sediment contains mercury, which is likely to have originated from historical gold mining sites where mercury was used in gold processing, as well as from other industrial sources. Over time, the mercury has been washed down through waterways, including the Yarra River, and come to rest on the bottom of the Bay," Dr Thompson said.

Dr Thompson said it was critical that further studies were done throughout the bay dredging process to ensure any further decline in dolphin health could be identified and managed.

Samantha Blair | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.monash.edu.au

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists spin artificial silk from whey protein

X-ray study throws light on key process for production

A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Choreographing the microRNA-target dance

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin

24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>