Cadmium in tissues of green turtles (Chelonia mydas): A global perspective for marine biota Journal Articles uri icon

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  • UNLABELLED: Cadmium (Cd) is a metal of toxicological interest because of its potential high toxicity to organisms and ability to biomagnify. Evaluating concentrations of Cd in organisms on a large spatial scale can provide insights to its global distribution. This study examined Cd concentrations in kidney and liver tissues of 137 specimens of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) collected in Australia, Brazil, Hawaii, Japan, and the continental United States (Gulf of Mexico). We used comparative analyses of kidney and liver of 35 individuals, of which seven turtles from each locality belong to the same size class for comparison purposes between their ocean of origin. Cd was detected in all samples, with the highest bioconcentration in kidneys. Specimens originating from the Pacific Ocean had significantly higher mean Cd levels in liver (13.24 μg/g) and kidney (34.17 μg/g) than the specimens collected in the Atlantic Ocean with lower mean values in liver (1.00 μg/g) and kidney (4.04 μg/g). Furthermore, Cd concentrations in turtle tissues were generally greater than concentrations found in other marine organisms, for example dolphins. This result was unexpected because dolphins occupy a higher trophic level than green turtles which are only herbivorous. A possible explanation is a change in feeding habits of green turtles, in which juveniles feed in near shore habitats, potentially resulting in greater Cd accumulation in juveniles compared to adults. This global distribution trend has also been observed in other marine organisms (e.g., insects, birds, and mammals) and indicates that global factors may be more important than regional factors in determining Cd concentrations of marine organisms. CAPSULE: Global factors are more relevant than local factors in the distribution of cadmium in biota, using green turtle as a sentinel species.


  • Fraga, Nairana Santos
  • Martins, Agnaldo Silva
  • Faust, Derek R
  • Sakai, Haruya
  • Bianchini, Adalto
  • da Silva, Cinthia Carneiro
  • Aguirre, A Alonso

publication date

  • October 2018