Global Distribution of Halogenated Dimethyl Bipyrroles in Marine Mammal Blubber Academic Article uri icon


  • Four halogenated dimethyl bipyrroles (HDBPs), hypothesized to be naturally produced, were quantitated in marine mammal blubber from a number of species obtained from various locations worldwide. HDBPs were found in samples from all locations studied. Concentrations of total HDBPs (SigmaHDBPs) ranged from 0.4 ng/g lipid weight in ringed seals (Phoca hispida) from the White Sea to 2,540 ng/g lipid weight in Dall's porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli) from the northwestern North Pacific Ocean. At their highest levels, SigmaHDBPs made up 11% of the total quantitated organohalogen body burden of adult male Dall's porpoises. In two beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) data subsets, it was found that males contained significantly higher concentrations of SigmaHDBPs than females. No significant effects of age or sex on SigmaHDBPs were observed in harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) and bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) data subsets. The geographical distribution of concentrations did not resemble that of the ubiquitous anthropogenic organohalogen, polychlorinated biphenyl congener CB-153. Higher concentrations of HDBPs and different patterns of congeners were observed in samples from Pacific as opposed to non-Pacific Ocean influenced environments. Concentrations of HDBPs in beluga from the Arctic and St. Lawrence River were similar. Their high abundance in north Pacific Ocean biota and widespread occurrence suggest that HDBPs undergo extensive transport from a source located primarily in the Pacific Ocean. Evidence from HDBP congener patterns indicates that both ocean currents and atmospheric transport likely play a role in the movement of HDBPs. These results imply that HDBPs and anthropogenic organohalogens have different sources and support the natural production hypothesis.

author list (cited authors)

  • Tittlemier, S., Borrell, A., Duffe, J., Duignan, P. J., Fair, P., Hall, A., ... Norstrom, R.

citation count

  • 40

publication date

  • October 2001