Sudden Burst of Sea Lion and Dolphin Deaths Possibly Due to Neurotoxic…
Since the beginning of June, sea lions and dolphins have been piling up by the hundreds on Southern California shores. The washed- up sea lions and dolphins are found either very sick or dead, and further investigation has revealed that the animals are suffering from a potent neurotoxin called domoic acid.
A rapid accumulation of algae–also known as an algae bloom–has been occurring approximately at the same time officials started receiving reports of dead sea mammals washing up on Southern California beaches. Experts believe the algae, Pseudo-nitzschia (known to produce domoic acid), are responsible for the animals’ deaths, but await test results for confirmation.
The Pacific Marine Mammal Center warns any who might come across the beached sea mammals to not attempt to push the animals back into the water, as it is dangerous and could prevent rescuers from giving the animals the treatment they need.
Humans can also be affected by the algae bloom. The California Department of Health has warned against consuming “sport-harvested mussels, clams, or scallops from Santa Barbara County” due to the high amounts of domoic acid detected there. However, purchased seafood is not at risk as it is tested for the neurotoxin before reaching the market.
By Connor Ku