Contaminants Found in Deep-Sea Species


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
June 9, 2008

The Northeast Fisheries Science Center yesterday released a study that shows chemical contaminants like PCBs and DDT are present in deep-sea species such as octopods and squids, the primary food sources for whales and other predators.

A variety of contaminants were found in nine species of cephalopods by researcher Michael Vacchione and colleagues at the National Marine Fisheries Service's National Systematics Laboratory, as well as George Vadas at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science of the College of William and Mary.

The researchers collected species in 2003 from depths between 3,300 to 6,600 feet in the western North Atlantic Ocean using a large mid-water trawl. Species were selected for analysis based on their importance as prey and included short-finned squid, cockatoo squid, vampire squid and octopus.

"The cephalopod species we analyzed span a wide range of sizes and represent an important component of the oceanic food web," says Vecchione. "The fact that we detected a variety of pollutants in specimens collected from more than 3,000 feet deep is evidence that human-produced chemicals are reaching remote areas of the open ocean, accumulating in prey species, and are therefore available to higher levels of marine life. Contamination of the deep-sea food web is happening, and it is a real concern."

The full report is available at and the entire study will be published in a future edition of the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin.

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