As long-lived predators at the top of the marine food chain, albatrosses accumulate toxic contaminants such as PCBs, DDT, and mercury in their bodies. A new study has found dramatic differences in contaminant levels between two closely related albatross species that forage in different areas of the North Pacific. Researchers also found that levels of PCBs and DDT have increased in both species over the past ten years.
The differences in contaminant levels between black-footed and Laysan albatrosses indicate regional differences in the contamination of North Pacific waters, said Myra Finkelstein, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who led the study.
"The black-footed albatrosses forage mostly in the California Current, whereas the Laysan albatrosses forage at higher latitudes near Alaska. So it appears that the California Current system has significantly higher concentrations of these contaminants," Finkelstein said.
Tim Stephens | EurekAlert!
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