Sea lions are being poisoned by a toxin found in plankton, and reports of sick animals being spotted along the Ventura County coast are skyrocketing, according to an animal rescue organization.
The Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute, a Santa Barbara-based marine animal rescue and rehabilitation organization, took to Instagram to report the problem they say started last week.
“Our volunteer team has been working from dawn to dusk responding to every report and the animals in distress,” the institute wrote in the Post. “We answer 50 to 100 calls a day with multiple individual animal reports.”
The organization reported that a natural compound, domoic acid, appeared to be the cause of the strange disease.
“Domonic acid is a potent neurotoxin naturally produced in phytoplankton,” they wrote.
According to the institute, ingesting the acid can lead to bothersome symptoms, such as “disorientation … restlessness, head movements and bobbing/swaying, foaming at the mouth, bulging eyes,” and more.
According to officials, the acid can be transmitted from animals to people who eat them. Crustaceans, fish, and shellfish can all have high levels of domoic acid without showing symptoms, the California Department of Health and Human Services says.
Domoic acid poisoning has primarily affected adult female sea lions, according to the post. The animals usually recover from the acute symptoms caused by the toxin within about three days after excreting the acid through the urine, the institute said.
The Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute reminded people to keep their distance if they see a sea lion or other marine mammal in distress.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-23/sick-sea-lions-spotted-southern-california-beaches Sick sea lions spotted along Ventura County coast