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As if threats including plastic pollution, oil spills, overfishing, fishing gear entanglement, wildlife cruelty and abuse, noise pollution, chemical pollution, sewage spills, and so much more were not enough, now California marine mammals are facing a horrific crisis. Thousands of Sea lions, dolphins, and other marine life are suffering seizures and dying from neurotoxin-producing algae bloom. In addition to marine mammals, seabirds such as Cormorants are in great danger.
I saw this poor Sea Lion in Del Mar today. I immediately called the life guards and the only marine mammal rescue in the area which is Sea World. After about two hours they arrived and took the Sea Lion. Sadly it is unknown if she will make it. The domoic acid can cause seizures and severe brain damage.
The toxic algae bloom from San Luis Obispo County to now in San Diego County, has been sickening and killing thousands of sea lions, dolphins, and other marine mammals.
Algae blooms are a result of excess nutrients from fertilizer, wastewater and stormwater runoff, coinciding with lots of sunlight, warm temperatures and shallow, slow-flowing water.
"Every harmful algae bloom (HAB) has its own features and this particular bloom seems to be coming from further offshore than usual. This means that in addition to an estimated more than 1,000 sick and dying sea lions, 110 dolphins have also been killed along the California coast. And these numbers don’t include those that may be dying at sea or out on the Channel Islands." The Guardian
The impacted animals are mostly sea lions and dolphins, but also whales and other marine mammals feed on smaller fish, such as squid, sardines and anchovies.
The toxins can cause seizures and severe brain inflammation and often leads to death by causing irreversible brain damage. Even after being rescued many of the animals will not make it due to severity of the brain damage associated with the toxin.
If you see a sick Sea Lion on the beach, keep your distance and let other people around you know to stay quiet and away from the Sea Lion. The timing of treatment can make a significant difference, please look out for affected wildlife along the coast and report them to the nearest rescue center ASAP.