Pesticides found in the tissue of beluga white whales living near Solovki

Pesticides found in the tissue of beluga white whales living near Solovki

22 August 2012

Scientists have found a dangerously high concentration of pesticides in the tissue of beluga white whales that inhabit the White Sea. These pesticides are widely used in India and China, said Lyudmila Danilova, IFAW's Project Coordinator in Russia.


A group of scientists from the Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences collected tissue samples from live animals and from a dead whale washed up on shore. Analysis of the tissue showed an unusually high concentration of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).


The scientists detected pesticides that have never been used in Russia or the Soviet Union, but that have been used for ant and termite control in China and India. They concluded that the pesticides drifted to the White Sea from Southeast Asia by sea.


They have also found traces of biphenyl (diphenyl), an organic compound produced on a large scale from the 1950s through the 1970s. Its use in industry was later prohibited. The scientists believe that the tissue samples from the dead whale should be considered more reliable, as the samples collected from live animals were too small.


They plan to collect more samples this year, in addition to analysing water from the White Sea. Their preliminary data will be presented in the form of a report at the international conference entitled Marine Mammals of the Holarctic, to be held in Suzdal, Russia, in September of this year.