Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Using atomic absorption spectroscopy, exceptionally high concentrations of iron (778 to 82,363 μg g+1 dry weight) and zinc (219 to 4,183 μg g+1 dry weight) were detected in the livers of Dugong dugon (Müller) from north Queensland compared with reported values for other marine mammals from other areas of the world. Levels of copper (9.1 to 608 μg g+1 dry weight), cadmium (〈0.1 to 59 μg g+1 dry weight), cobalt (0.5 to 72 μg g+1 dry weight) and silver (0.2 to 39 μg g+1 dry weight) in the liver, and cadmium (0.2 to 209 μg g+1 dry weight) in the kidney were also relatively high in several samples, whilst concentrations of nickel, lead and chromium were consistently below the limits of detection in all tissues. Manganese concentrations, in all tissues examined, were generally comparable with those reported from other marine mammals. Tissue concentrations of a number of metals varied with the age of the dugong. Levels of iron, zinc, cadmium and cobalt in the liver zinc and cadmium in the kidney, and iron in the muscle were significantly positively correlated with age. Copper and manganese in both liver and kidney were negatively correlated with age. Large deposits of the iron-rich pigment, haemosiderin, the quantity of which also tended to increase with age, was a conspicuous feature of the livers of all the post-natal dugongs examined histologically. It seems unlikely that the unusual metal status of the dugong reflects anthropogenic activities, since many individuals were collected in remote areas far from major sites of urbanization and industrialization. Seagrasses, the major food of dugongs, were collected from various north Queensland dugong habitat-areas and analysed. Very high concentrations of iron but low levels of copper were detected. The significance of such dietary imbalances and their possible influence on the metal status of the dugong were therefore considered.
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