Changes in persistent contaminant concentration and CYP1A1 protein expression in biopsy samples from northern bottlenose whales, Hyperoodon ampullatus, following the onset of nearby oil and gas development
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A small population of endangered northern bottlenose whales (Hyperoodon ampullatus) inhabits "The Gully" a Marine Protected Area on the Scotian Shelf, eastern Canada. Amid concerns regarding nearby oil and gas development, we took 36 skin and blubber biopsy samples in 1996-1997 (prior to major development) and 2002-2003 (five years after development began), and three samples from a population in the Davis Strait, Labrador in 2003. These were analysed for cytochrome P4501A1 (CYP1A1) protein expression (n=36), and for persistent contaminants (n=23). CYP1A1 showed generally low expression in whales from The Gully, but higher levels during 2003, potentially coincident with recorded oil spills, and higher levels in Davis Strait whales. A range of PCB congeners and organochlorine compounds were detected, with concentrations similar to other North Atlantic odontocetes. Concentrations were higher in whales from The Gully than from the Davis Strait, with significant increases in 4,4'-DDE and trans-nonachlor in 2002-2003 relative to 1996-1997.
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