Effect of diet on the capacity to remove mercury from the body of a penguin (Spheniscus demersus) living in the ZOO
1 Institute of Oceanography, Department of Marine Chemistry and Environmental Protection, University of Gdansk Al. M.Piłsudskiego 46, 81-378 Gdynia, Poland
2 Municipal Zoological Garden, Karwieńska 3, 80-001 Gdańsk, Poland
Birds due to its position in the trophic chain are good monitors of the marine environment in terms of mercury contamination. For the proper interpretation of results it is necessary to know both the processes of accumulation of this metal in their bodies and processes of elimination. Research involving the Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) living in a ZOO has identified the relationship between diet and the amount of mercury removed from the penguin body in guano, feathers, and in the case of females with eggs. The research was conducted in years 2009-2011. Total mercury was determined in elements responsible for detoxification and in the diet of penguins. Mercury concentration was determined by atomic absorption spectrophotometry with AMA-254 automatic mercury analyzer. The highest average mercury concentrations were determined in feathers: 1781.12 ngHg•g−1d.w., lower in eggs: 950.88 ngHg•g−1 dry weight (d.w.). and in a guano: 139.18 ngHg•g−1. In food, herrings caught in the southern Baltic, Hg concentrations were relatively low with averaged value 31.81 ngHg•g−1d.w.
Key words: total mercury / Spheniscus demersus / detoxification / feathers / guano / egg
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