The endangered Western population of the Steller sea lion declined for three decades for uncertain reasons. We present baseline data of metal concentrations in pups as a first step towards investigating the potential threat of developmental exposures to contaminants. Seven metals were investigated: arsenic, cadmium, silver, aluminum, mercury, lead and vanadium. Vanadium was detected in only a single blubber sample. Mercury appears to be the most toxicologically significant metal with concentrations in the liver well above the current action level for mercury in fish. The concentrations of aluminum, arsenic, silver, cadmium and lead were present in one-fourth to two-thirds of all samples and were at either comparable or below concentrations previously reported. Neither gender nor region had a significant effect on metal burdens. Future work should consider metal concentrations in juveniles and adults and toxicological studies need to be performed to begin to assess the toxicity of these metals.
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