Table of Contents
ISRN Zoology
Volume 2012, Article ID 106259, 8 pages
Research Article

Postmortem Health and Pollution Investigations on Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina) of the Islands Helgoland and Sylt

1Marine Bioanalytical Chemistry, Institute of Coastal Research, Helmholtz Centre Geesthacht, 21502 Geesthacht, Germany
2Department of Clinical Sciences and Instituto Canario de Investigación del Cáncer, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 35080 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
3Department Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Bologna, 47042 Cesenatico, Italy
4Immunology Department, Health Diagnostics and Research Institute, South Amboy, NJ 08879, USA

Received 19 November 2011; Accepted 20 December 2011

Academic Editors: A. Arslan, S. P. Lambeth, and C. P. Wheater

Copyright © 2012 Antje Kakuschke et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Helgoland and Sylt are important centers of tourism in the North Sea. Harbor and grey seals are one reason for the attraction of these islands. However, little is known about these local seal groups. The present postmortem health and pollution study describes a multiparameter investigation of five ill harbor seals which were shot for animal welfare reasons. Firstly, results of pathology and blood investigations support the bad prognosis of survival made in the field. Signs of inflammation in organs, malnutrition, a high-stress level, and reduced thyroid activity were found. Secondly, metal and organic contaminants were investigated. Metal pollutants in blood, liver, muscle, and kidney tissue were not elevated. Lead and mercury concentrations showed a decreased level compared to former studies. Additionally, interesting insights were found for several organic contaminants in comparison with other studies. The Helgoland seals may be influenced by the contaminants of the Elbe plume.