Pollution Trends in River Otter in Georgia

Eighty-one river otter (Lutra canadensis) carcasses were collected from trappers and a fur dealer in Georgia during the 1979 - 80 and 1980 - 81 trapping seasons for environmental pollutant analysis. Mercury occurred in all muscle, liver, and hair samples analyzed with ranges of 0.2 to 13, 1.2 to 60, and 7.1 to 155 ppm, respectively. Detectable cesium-137 occurred in 77% of the samples ranging from less than 141 to 6,660 pCi/kg. DDT and its metabolites were detected in 97% of the otter fat samples at levels ranging from 0.08 to 91.90 ppm. Mirex, dieldrin, and PCBs were found in 68, 59, and 66% of the samples with ranges of 0.16 to 75.40, 0.03 to 1.26, and 0.57 to 84.20 ppm. Muscle, hair, and liver mercury levels, cesium-137 and mirex levels were all significantly higher in the coastal plain than in the piedmont region of Georgia. Dieldrin, PCBs, and coastal plain muscle mercury were all significantly higher in the current study than in a similar study conducted during the 1976-77 trapping season whereas cesium-137 and DDD were significantly lower.

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