California [US]July 2 (ANI): Hundreds of sea lions, dolphins are strewn across Southern California beaches, dead, sick and exhibiting unusual behavior, CNN reports.
In recent weeks, officials have fielded more than 1,000 calls from beachgoers, tourists and residents reporting that coastal waters from Santa Barbara to San Diego have been hit by toxic algal blooms, according to CNN. The county’s sick, dying and Dead Sea mammals washed ashore. .
Justin Greenman, stranding coordinator for NOAA’s Fisheries Division, told CNN that the wave of dead or diseased animals is “one of the largest waves in living memory.” “He said.
And, Greenman said, that doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.
Marine life experts believe harmful algal blooms are to blame, although they are awaiting test results to confirm this. The algae, called Pseudo-Nietzsche, produces a neurotoxin called domoic acid, which poisons seabirds and fish when ingested. It can then travel through the food chain to reach large marine animals such as dolphins, sea lions and even humans, according to CNN.
Humans can also get sick from domoic acid if they eat contaminated food, though seafood is tested for the toxin to keep it from reaching the table. The California Department of Health specifically warned against eating “sport-caught mussels, clams or scallops from Santa Barbara County” after detecting high levels of the toxin.
Ruth Dover, co-founder and managing director of the Channel Islands Institute for Marine and Wildlife Research, said they have done more than 100 dead sea lions and more than 300 live sea lions in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. In response, the sea lions showed signs of ingesting domoic acid.
According to CNN, the group said the dolphin death toll has now reached as high as 100, which Greenman called unusual, especially since the bloom appears to be affecting species that normally live far from shore. (Arnie)
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