Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

Organic pollutants reach Antarctica in Southern Giant Petrels

Fernanda Colabuono (Universidade de São Paulo, Instituto Oceanográfico, Laboratório de Química Orgânica Marinha, São Paulo, Brazil) and colleagues write in the journal Antarctic Science on pollutants in eggs of five species of Antarctic seabirds, including the ACAP-listed Southern Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus.

The paper’s abstract follows:

“Organochlorine contaminants (OCs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were investigated in the eggs of five bird species from the South Shetland Islands.  Additionally, OCs and PBDEs were also analysed in embryos of two species.  The concentration ranges in eggs were (ng g-1 wet weight) 2.11 to 541 for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), <0.25 to 0.88 for PBDEs, 2.45 to 405 for p,p’-DDE and 1.50 to 603 for mirex.  The PCBs were predominant in the eggs of Macronectes giganteus, Catharacta antarctica and Larus dominicanus, whereas hexachlorobenzene (HCB) was the major compound found in the eggs of Pygoscelis antarcticus and Sterna vittata.  The PBDE congeners were detected only in the eggs of C. antarctica (PBDE 47 and 153) and S. vittata (PBDE 47).  There were differences in OC concentrations of up to two orders of magnitude between M. giganteus embryos which were related to the development stage and OC concentrations in the respective eggs.  Trophic ecology and post-breeding dispersal exerted an influence on contaminant patterns. Comparisons with data from the literature indicate an increase in the concentrations of some OCs over recent years.”

A white-phase Southern Giant Petrel in Antarctica, photograph by Michael Dunn


Colabuono, F.I., Taniguchi, S., Petry, M.V. & Montone, R.C. 2015.  Organochlorine contaminants and polybrominated diphenyl ethers in eggs and embryos of Antarctic birds.  Antarctic Science

John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 13 January 2015

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