Pantropical distribution of zinc in green turtles (Chelonia mydas): marine vertebrates as sentiel species Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Pollution is one of the biggest threats to marine life and trace elements are among the most toxic pollutants in this environment. Zn is an essential trace element for biota but becomes toxic at high concentrations. Sea turtles are good bioindicators of trace element pollution, due to their longevity and cosmopolitan distribution that allow bioaccumulation for years in their tissues. Determining and comparing Zn concentrations in sea turtles from faraway places is relevant for conservation due to the lack of knowledge of geographically broader distribution patterns of Zn in vertebrates. In this study, comparative analyses of bioaccumulation in the liver, kidney, and muscles of 35 C. mydas from Brazil, Hawaii, the USA (Texas), Japan, and Australia of statistically equal sizes were performed. Zn was found in all specimens, with the highest levels in the liver and kidneys. Specimens from Australia (30.58 µg g-1), Hawaii (31.91 µg g-1), Japan (29.99 µg g-1), and the USA (33.79 µg g-1) showed statistically equal means in the liver. Kidney levels were the same in Japan (35.09 µg g-1) and the USA (37.29 µg g-1) and the same in Australia (23.06 µg g-1) and Hawaii (23.31 µg/g). Specimens from Brazil had the lowest means in both organs (12.17 µg g-1 in the liver and 9.39 µg g-1 in the kidney). The pattern of equal Zn values for most specimens in the liver is an important finding, demonstrating that there are pantropical patterns in the distribution of this metal even in regions so far from each other. A possible explanation is due to the essential nature of this metal linked to metabolic regulation, in addition to the bioavailability for biological absorption in marine environments, such as RS in Brazil, with a lower standard bioavailability also found in other organisms. Therefore, factors such as metabolic regulation and bioavailability indicate that there is a pantropical distribution of Zn in marine biota and green turtles can be a useful model as a sentinel species.


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

publication date

  • April 2023