Man-made chemicals pollute deep-sea squids

June 10th, 2008 - 3:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 10 (IANS) A new study has turned up alarming evidence of how man-made contaminants are being found in deep-sea squids and octopods, food for deep-diving whales. The report has found chemical contaminants in nine species of cephalopods, a class of organisms that includes octopods, squids, cuttlefishes and nautiluses.

The samples were collected from depths up to 2,000 metres in the western part of North Atlantic Ocean.

Worse, the contaminants were found to be what are known as persistent organic pollutants (POP) that do not degrade and persist in the environment for a very long time.

“It was surprising to find measurable and sometimes high amounts of toxic pollutants in such a deep and remote environment,” said Michael Vecchione, who led the study.

Cephalopods are important to the diet of cetaceans, a class of marine mammals that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Recent studies have reported the presence of POPs in the blubber and tissues of whales and other predatory marine mammals as well as in some deep-sea fish.

However, almost no information existed prior to this study about POPs in deep-sea cephalopods.

The species were selected for chemical analysis based on their importance as prey and included the commercially important short-finned squid Illex illecebrosus, as well as cockatoo squid, “vampire squid”, and the large jelly-like octopus Haliphron atlanticus.

The findings of the study have been published in the latest edition of the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin.

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