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Tracking humanity’s latest toxins in stranded whales and dolphins

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain As humanity develops new types of plastics and chemicals, researchers are constantly trying to keep up with understanding how these contaminants affect the environment and wildlife. A new study gives a first look at the presence and potential effects of these pollutants in stranded dolphins and whales along the coast of the southeastern United States.

The extent of pollution in the world’s oceans is bad enough as is, but new types of plastics and chemicals are constantly entering the market—and then inevitably the oceans.

In a recent study in Frontiers in Marine Science , researchers measured the presence of such chemicals in whales and dolphins that washed ashore in Florida and North Carolina. The impacts of many of these contaminants are poorly understood and this study provides a first glimpse of their implications for ocean life. The authors also report some of the highest mercury and arsenic levels recorded to date in stranded dolphins and whales.

“Marine mammals are ecosystem sentinels that reflect anthropogenic threats through their health—which has implications for human health as well,” says lead author Assistant Professor Annie Page-Karjian of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, in the United States.

“For example, many […]

read more here —> phys.org

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