Environmental contamination and developmental abnormalities in eggs and hatchlings of the common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina) from the Great Lakes-St Lawrence River basin (1989-1991).
During 1989-1991, we assessed developmental abnormalities in embryos and hatchlings from eggs of the common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina). Eggs were collected and artificially incubated from eight sites in Ontario, Canada and Akwesasne/New York, USA. In eggs from the same clutches we measured 20 organochlorine pesticides, 48 polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) congeners including 6 non-ortho PCBs, 8 polychlorinated dibenzodioxins (PCDDs), 14 polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and total mercury. We found a significant increase in abnormal development with increasing polychlorinated aromatic hydrocarbon exposure in eggs, particularly PCDD and PCDF concentrations. In contrast, the risk of abnormality was not significantly higher as toxic equivalent concentrations increased in eggs. We also found significant 7-ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase and Cytochrome P4501A responses in livers of hatchling turtles from Lake Ontario relative to hatchlings from a clean, inland site whereas we did not find any evidence of porphyria in the hatchlings from either site.