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Toxic algae suspected in Southern California sea lion and dolphin deaths

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Marine mammal rescue groups have been flooded with reports of sick and dead sea lions and dolphins along the Southern California coast this month, which experts attribute to an outbreak of harmful algae. ing.

Hundreds of sea lions are believed to have died in the first few weeks of June, according to a statement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service, known as NOAA fishing.

The number of dead dolphins has reached about 100, according to Michelle Berman-Kowalewski, founder and director of the Channel Islands Cetacean Research Unit, a Santa Barbara-based biomonitoring organization.

NOAA Fisheries said tissue samples were collected for testing to confirm that the animals were victims of domoic acid, a neurotoxin produced by the algae Pseudonitua. This toxin enters the food chain and causes disease in marine mammals when they eat their prey.

According to the California Department of Public Health, domoic acid also poses a risk to people who eat shellfish, shellfish, and seafood with elevated levels. High doses can be fatal.

While this algae occurs naturally and outbreaks of domoic acid poisoning are not uncommon along the California coast, this epidemic is unusually serious.

Berman Kowalewski said the number of dolphin carcasses was “arguably the most animals we’ve seen in the Domoic acid incident” in her 25 years of work.

Sea lions washed up on beaches can appear disoriented and agitated, exhibiting symptoms such as head shaking, foaming at the mouth, seizures and loss of motor skills. Beachgoers have been warned to stay away from injured animals and call rescue organizations instead.

The Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute received more than 1,000 reports between June 8 and June 14, co-founder and managing director Ruth Dover told NOAA Fisheries.

NOAA fishermen said marine monitoring agencies found high concentrations of domoic acid in northern Orange County through San Luis Obispo County, particularly in the Santa Barbara Channel off Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

According to Berman-Kowalewski, a major contributor to algae growth includes nutrients that are washed out to sea by rain and wind, creating vortex effects within waterways and causing upwelling.

“Anytime you pump nutrients from the depths, you’re creating algae that feed on it, and that’s what we’re seeing now,” she says.

Fish such as anchovies feed on algae, and marine mammals feed on anchovies.

“And we understand that there are a lot of anchovies right now,” Berman-Kowalewski said. “I think we’re just having the perfect storm right now.” Told.

https://www.ksby.com/news/california-news/toxic-algae-suspected-in-deaths-of-sea-lions-and-dolphins-on-southern-california-coast Toxic algae suspected in Southern California sea lion and dolphin deaths

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