Variation of essential and non-essential trace elements in whale shark epidermis associated to two different feeding areas of the Gulf of California. Academic Article uri icon


  • The Gulf of California represents an important hotspot for whale shark (Rhincodon typus) aggregation. Anthropogenic activities and natural sources could expose sharks to high levels of trace elements (TEs). To determinate these levels in this endangered species, concentrations of As, Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn (in ng/g ww) were measured in 130 whale shark skin biopsies and 44 zooplankton samples collected from two areas of the Gulf of California, Baha de Los Angeles (BLA) and Baha de La Paz (LAP) during 2016-2018. For biopsies, Zn exhibited highest concentrations in BLA (2016-2017, 298 406; 2017-2018, 1959 2545) and at LAP (in 2016-2017, 595 554; in 2017-2018, 2642 1261). On the other hand, Cd (BLA 2016-2017, 3 3; LAP 2016-2017, 4 3; BLA 2017-2018, 17 14; LAP 2017-2018, 13 10) and Pb (BLA 2016-2017, 7 7; LAP 2016-2017, 15 32; BLA 2017-2018, 69 76; LAP 2017-2018, 7 5) showed lowest concentrations. Significant differences in TE concentrations between sites and periods occurred. Arsenic found in shark biopsies from La Paz suggested enrichment and/or increased bioavailability in this area. Sex alone was not a significant factor in TE concentration; nevertheless, a sex-dependent difference in correlation of TE concentration and size was noted (negative in males, positive in females). This indicates feeding strategies of whale shark may be sex and size segregated. During 2017-2018, zooplankton and sharks showed enrichment in all TEs. Essential elements were not biomagnified by sharks. Lead was biomagnified through zooplankton. Strong positive correlation between selected elements indicates that Zn, Cd and Pb follow the same metabolic route in the sharks' body.

published proceedings

  • Environ Sci Pollut Res Int

author list (cited authors)

  • Pancaldi, F., Pez-Osuna, F., Marmolejo-Rodrguez, A. J., Whitehead, D. A., Gonzlez-Armas, R., Soto-Jimnez, M. F., ... Galvn-Magaa, F.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Pancaldi, Francesca||Páez-Osuna, Federico||Marmolejo-Rodríguez, Ana Judith||Whitehead, Darren Andrew||González-Armas, Rogelio||Soto-Jiménez, Martin Federico||O'Hara, Todd||Vazquéz-Haikin, Abraham||Galván-Magaña, Felipe

publication date

  • January 2021