Organochlorines and mercury in pilot whale blubber consumed by Faroe islanders

M.P. Simmonds, P. A. Johnston, M.C. French, R. Reeve

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Some 22,000 pilot whales (Globicephala melaena) were taken in the Faroe Islands between 1970 and 1992. It is known that tissues from these animals are widely consumed by the islanders. The position of these animals at the apex of a direct marine food chain renders them liable to accumulate toxic chemicals, such as metals and organochlorines. Although the consumption of contaminating metals in pilot whale tissues has been studied, the significance of blubber as a dietary source of organochlorine compounds has not been fully considered. This study reports levels of organochlorine and mercury contamination in the blubber of pilot whales taken in two Faroese kills. Published estimates of pilot whale tissue consumption are used to evaluate dietary organochlorine intake in relation to established national and international guidelines and clinical studies conducted in the North American Great Lakes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-111
Number of pages15
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Pilot whales
  • Whaling
  • Organochlorines
  • Diet
  • Mercury
  • Faroe Islands


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