What’s ailing the sea lions stranded on California beaches?


Midway through August, the worried calls started. Along the southern California coast, sea lions, especially adult females, started to show symptoms of poisoning, including being confused and agitated, with their heads bobbing and their mouths frothing.

According to marine animal organisations, concerned beachgoers flooded them with questions. The Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute, which operates in the island community off the coast of Los Angeles, posted on Instagram, "We are answering to 50-100 calls a day."

The Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System's director, Clarissa Anderson, was one of the scientists who received alerts regarding sick sea lions. She verified the weekly sampling stations for observation at docks all around the coast of California right away.

According to Anderson, California experiences seasonal blooms of the algae that produces the neurotoxic, but one this late in the summer is exceptional. Because the creature is particularly responsive to coastal upwelling, which occurs in the spring when strong winds push deep waters to rise to the surface, bringing up nutrients that the algae needs to grow, Anderson adds, "We expect that to peak more in April or May."

People who consume toxic seafood may feel vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, headaches, and dizziness between 30 minutes to 24 hours of eating. The acid can be transmitted from animals to humans through poisonous seafood. According to the California Department of Public Health, significant levels of domoic acid can be present in crustaceans, fish, and shellfish without causing any symptoms.

Scientists researching the large blooms in the Pacific Northwest have discovered how hardy the organism is, according to Vera Trainer of the Noaa north-west fisheries science centre. "They are able to resist really severe and stressful circumstances," the author claims, describing how these organisms sink to the ocean's floor like marine snow and then wait in a state akin to hibernation for the appropriate nutrients to bounce back and bring them to the surface.

This may indicate that domoic acid adjusts effectively to the warming of ocean waters. According to Trainer, there is evidence that these cells function best in warm water and in nutrient-depleted conditions that are quickly followed by nutrient infusions.

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