Prevalence of skull pathologies in European harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) during 1981–2014
We studied indices of reproductive outcome in three aquatic species in relation to organochlorine concentrations during four decades. In female otters, the frequency of signs of reproduction increased after 1990. In grey seals, pregnancy rate increased 1990-2010 and uterine obstructions ceased after 1993. The frequency of uterine tumours was highest 1980-2000. The number of sea eagle nestlings per checked nest increased 1985-2000, while the frequency of desiccated eggs decreased. Organochlorine concentrations decreased at annual rates between 3.5 and 10.2%. The estimated mean concentration (mg/kg lw) for total-PCB decreased from 70 to 8 (otters), from 110 to 15 (seals) and from 955 to 275 (eagles). The corresponding concentrations for ΣDDT decreased from 3.4 to 0.2 (otters), from 192 to 2.8 (seals) and from 865 to 65 (eagles). This study adds evidence to support the hypothesis that PCBs and DDTs have had strong negative effects on the reproduction and population levels of these species.