Toxic elements (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, selenium, thallium) are a group of contaminants that are known to elicit developmental, reproductive, general health, and immune system effects in reptiles, even at low concentrations. Reptiles, including marine turtles, are susceptible to accumulation of toxic elements due to their long life span, low metabolic rate, and highly efficient conversion of prey into biomass. The objectives of this study were to (1) document concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, selenium, and thallium in whole blood and keratin from nesting loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) from Casey Key, Florida and document correlations thereof and (2) correlate whole blood toxic element concentrations to various hematological and plasma biochemistry analytes. Baselines for various hematological and plasma analytes and toxic elements in whole blood and keratin (i.e., scute) in nesting loggerheads are documented. Various correlations between the toxic elements and hematological and plasma biochemistry analytes were identified; however, the most intriguing were negative correlations between arsenic, cadmium, lead, and selenium with and α- and γ-globulins. Although various extrinsic and intrinsic variables such as dietary and feeding changes in nesting loggerheads need to be considered, this finding may suggest a link to altered humoral immunity. This study documents a suite of health variables of nesting loggerheads in correlation to contaminants and identifies the potential of toxic elements to impact the overall health of nesting turtles, thus presenting important implications for the conservation and management of this species.
Environmental Pollution – Elsevier
Published: Dec 1, 2017
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