Health, Medicine

Possible maternal offloading of metals in the plasma, uterine and capsule fluid of pregnant ragged-tooth sharks ( Carcharias taurus ) on the east coast of South Africa

Abstract

We studied the possible metal offloading onto the progeny of three pregnant female ragged-tooth sharks (Carcharias taurus) (C. taurus). The presences of five metals, i.e. aluminium (Al), arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), lead (Pb) and selenium (Se) were validated by mass spectrometry in the maternal plasma as well as the intracapsular and uterine fluids (UF) in which embryos develop. Metals were ranked in a decreasing concentration as follows: Plasma: As > Al > Se > Pb > Cd; ICF: As > Se > Al > Cd > Pb and UF: As > Se > Al > Cd > Pb. As was present in the highest concentration in all three sharks. Al, Pb and Cd were found to be the highest within the plasma, while concentrations of Se were similar in all three fluids. These results indicate that C. taurus embryos are exposed to metals during early development, but the impact of this exposure remains unknown. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first investigation to confirm the presence of metals in the fluids that surround the developing C. taurus embryos, a species that is already listed as vulnerable.

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