Persistent organic pollutants in sea bird eggs from the Indian Ocean's Mascarene Basin.
We report the concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in seabird eggs from St. Brandon's Atoll, a tropical island system in the western Indian Ocean. Ten eggs each of sooty terns (Onychoprion fuscatus), fairy terns (Gygis alba), and common noddies (Anous stolidus) were collected from the atoll. For a terrestrial reference, we analysed three feral chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) eggs from the same location. Sooty tern eggs contained the highest mean concentrations of three chemical classes: ΣCHL3 (0.21 ng/g wm; wet mass), ΣPCB10 (1.5 ng/g wm), and ΣPBDE6 (1.1 ng/g wm). Fairy tern eggs contained the highest mean concentrations of HCB (0.68 ng/g wm) and ΣCHB5 (0.83 ng/g wm). The chicken eggs contained the highest mean concentrations of ΣDDT3 (2.6 ng/g wm), while common noddy eggs contained the highest mean concentrations of ΣHCH2 (0.5 ng/g wm). We surmise that the differences in chemical composition between species reflect different pollutant compositions in prey from the bird's different foraging ranges. The sooty terns foraging offshore contained higher POPs concentrations than the nearshore-foraging common noddies. Fairy tern eggs contained intermediate concentrations, commensurate with their intermediate foraging. Inter-island differences in contaminant concentrations were seen between eggs of the common noddies from St. Brandon's Atoll and Rodrigues Island, 520 km to the south-east. Concentrations of contaminants found in this study were lower than values quantified by other studies, making St. Brandon's Atoll an ideal reference site to monitor background concentrations of POPs in the tropical Indian Ocean.