SAN DIEGO — An algae bloom off the Southern California coast is killing marine mammals. Sea World rescuers in San Diego are now starting to see the issues firsthand.
“Domoic Acid is a toxic produced by a type of algae called Pseudo-nitzschia,” said Dr. Kelsey Herrick, a veterinarian for Sea World.
Better known as domoic acid poisoning, marine mammals are eating infected shelf fish and fish. This is then causing major neurological problems, especially in central California.
“Hundreds to a thousand animals effected,” said Dr. Herrick. “The main species we are seeing now are dolphins washing up on beaches, and then California sea lions as well.”
Now the fear is the toxic algae bloom hitting the San Diego area as well. Seven animals were rescued over the last few days, but some didn’t make it.
Locally here in San Diego, sea lions have been showing the worst signs of domoic acid poisoning. Symptoms seem to just be the marine mammals acting strangely.
”Dead asleep on the beach to seizures,” said Dr. Herrick. “Sometimes sea lions will end up in really weird areas like on roads or on private properties, or in people’s backyards.”
Sea World is stocking up on medications and hoping the worst is behind them.
“We can treat the neurological symptoms with drugs to a certain extent, so if it’s a mild case then they can make it,” said Dr. Herrick.
But if the bloom hits hard, rescuers at Sea World will be in a triage situation.
“In more severe cases it can be fatal, because the brain damage is so severe that it is irreversible,” said Dr. Herrick.