Concentrations of lead in pinniped bones confirm Galapagos as a relatively unpolluted environment

Odei Garcia-Garin, Asunción Borrell, Alex Aguilar, Morgana Vighi, Meica Valdivia, Enrique M. González, Diego Páez-Rosas, Massimiliano Drago

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lead (Pb) is a trace element that is naturally present in arid regions but it is also released to the marine environment by anthropogenic industrial emissions. Here, we assessed Pb concentrations in bone samples of four pinniped species: the Galapagos sea lion Zalophus wollebaeki, sampled in Galapagos archipelago, the monk seal Monachus monachus from Mauritania, and the South American fur seal Arctocephalus australis and the South American sea lion Otaria flavescens, from Uruguay, and investigate potential geographic differences. Concentrations of lead in the samples from Galapagos were lower than those detected in samples from Mauritania and Uruguay, indicating that the Galapagos archipelago is a comparatively pristine spot for this toxic element as related to the other two areas. The waters of Mauritania and Uruguay are likely affected by the inputs of lead brought by the desert dust and released by the local industry, respectively. This study supports the use of bone to assess lead concentrations in biota, as well as the use of pinnipeds as bioindicators of marine pollution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108614
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • Bone
  • Marine mammal
  • Marine vertebrates
  • Metal
  • Pb
  • Trace element


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