Total mercury content was determined by neutron activation analysis in tissues and organs of 13 striped dolphins Stenella coeruleoalba Meyen, beached along the French Mediterranean coasts. Analysis showed high values of mercury, with considerable variations according to location and the considered organs or tissues. The highest concentrations were found in the liver (from 68 to 2272 mu-g g-1 dry wt. basis), then in the lung (from 3 to 396 mu-g g-1), kidney (from 14 to 341 mu-g g-1), muscle (from 7 to 155 mu-g g-1), heart (from 4 to 100 mu-g g-1) and brain (from 4 to 81 mu-g g-1). The possible implications of Hg in dolphin death is discussed, and various hypotheses are formulated about the origin of mercury in this sea and its possible uptake by dolphins.
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