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Trace Element Concentrations in Blood and Scute Tissues From Wild and Captive Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas)

October 26, 2020

The present study compares trace element concentrations in green turtles in captivity at Sea Life Park Hawaii to wild green turtles in Kapoho Bay, Hawaii, USA.

Sea turtles are exposed to trace elements through water, sediment, and food. Exposure to these elements has been shown to decrease immune function, impair growth, and decrease reproductive output in wildlife.

The present study compares trace element concentrations in green turtles in captivity at Sea Life Park Hawaii to wild green turtles in Kapoho Bay, Hawaii, USA. Blood and scute samples were collected and analyzed for 11 elements via inductively coupled plasma‐mass spectrometry

Because captive turtles are fed a diet very different from that of their wild counterparts, captive turtles do not represent control or reference samples for chemical exposure studies in wild turtles. No toxic thresholds are known for sea turtles, but rehabilitation and managed care facilities should monitor sea turtle elemental concentrations to ensure the animals' health. 


Shaw KR, Lynch JM, Balazs GH, Jones TT, Pawloski J, Rice MR, French AD, Liu J, Cobb GP, Klein DM. 2020. Trace Element Concentrations in Blood and Scute Tissues from Wild and Captive Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.  https://doi.org/10.1002/etc.4911.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 08/06/2022