Tissue heavy metal concentrations of stranded California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) in Southern California

Erin R. Harper, Judy A. St. Leger, Jody A. Westberg, Lisa Mazzaro, Todd Schmitt, Tom H. Reidarson, Melinda Tucker, Dee H. Cross, Birgit Puschner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Concentrations of nine heavy metals (As, Cd, Cu, Fe, Hg, Pb, Mn, Mo and Zn) were determined in the hepatic and renal tissues of 80 stranded California sea lions (Zalophus californianus). Significant age-dependant increases were observed in liver and kidney concentrations of cadmium and mercury, and renal zinc concentrations. Hepatic iron concentrations were significantly higher in females than males. Animals with suspected domoic acid associated pathological findings had significantly higher concentrations of liver and kidney cadmium; and significantly higher liver mercury concentrations when compared to animals classified with infectious disease or traumatic mortality. Significantly higher hepatic burdens of molybdenum and zinc were found in animals that died from infectious diseases. This is the largest study of tissue heavy metal concentrations in California sea lions to date. These data demonstrate how passive monitoring of stranded animals can provide insight into environmental impacts on marine mammals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)677-682
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • California sea lion
  • Contaminants
  • Heavy metals
  • Stranded animals
  • Zalophus californianus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pollution


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