Body distribution and growth- and nutritional status-dependent accumulation of 21 trace elements were investigated in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) stranded in the North Sea coast in 2002. Higher concentrations and burdens of Mn, Se, Mo, Ag, Sn, Hg, and Bi in the liver, Cd in the kidney, As in the blubber, and Co, Sr, and Ba in the bone were observed. Significant positive correlations of hepatic Se, Mo, Ag, Cd, Sn, Hg, Tl, and Bi with standard body length were found, while significant negative relationships were detected for Mn, As, Rb, Sr, and Sb in the liver. Concentrations of Co, Se, Sr, Sn, Hg, and Bi in the liver, V. Sr, Ag, Sn, and Hg in the kidney, V. Mn, Co, Rb, Sr, Sn, Ba, and Pb in the blubber increased with decreasing blubber thickness of harbor seals, indicating enrichment of these elements in the target tissue by emaciation. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.