Fatty acid characterization of lipid fractions from blubber biopsies of sperm whales Physeter macrocephalus located around the Azores

M. J. Walton, M. A. Silva, S. M. Magalhaes, R. Prieto, R. S. Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Fatty acid profiles of blubber have been shown previously to provide information on stock structure and sex differences. Generally the predominant blubber lipid of marine mammal species is triacylglycerol (fatty acids linked to glycerol) and previous studies have focused on this lipid class. But in some species such as the sperm whales the predominant lipid is wax esters (fatty acids linked to fatty alcohols) although triacylglycerols are also present. In this study the fatty acids and fatty alcohols of these lipid classes were characterized and the fatty acid profiles compared in order to assess their potential to provide qualitative ecological data. Biopsy samples were obtained from 40 whales found in seas around the Azores achipelago during the period 2002-2003. The samples contained about 10% lipid of which 70% was wax ester and 11% triacylglycerol. The fatty acids of the triacylglycerols and wax esters were respectively approximately 19% and 16% saturated, 74% and 80% monounsaturated and 5% and 3% polyunsaturated with the main contributors being 18:1 n-9, 16:1 n-7 and 16:0. The alcohols of the wax esters were mainly either saturated or monounsaturated with the main contributors being 18:1 n-9 (40%) and 16:0 (22%). No statistically significant differences in profiles were found between different island groups, between sexes or between years Of sampling. In future studies there would not appear to be any apparent benefits over total lipid in examining each of the fatty acid classes of sperm whale blubber separately.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1109-1115
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
Volume88
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008

Keywords

  • fatty acids
  • blubber
  • sperm whale
  • Azores
  • wax esters
  • triacylglycerol
  • DOLPHINS DELPHINUS-DELPHIS
  • SEALS HALICHOERUS-GRYPUS
  • BOTTLE-NOSED-DOLPHIN
  • ET-AL. 2003
  • HARBOR-SEALS
  • SIGNATURE ANALYSIS
  • ADIPOSE-TISSUE
  • STABLE-ISOTOPE
  • HARP SEALS
  • DIET

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