Biotoxins killing Central Coast sea life
August 27, 2014
An outbreak of algae-produced biotoxins that attacks the brain is killing sea life along the Central Coast of California and also poses a risk to humans. [Aljazeera]
The California Department of Public Health closed fisheries in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties in April. And now, marine scientists have discovered sea lions having seizures on the beach in Morro Bay because of Domoic acid, a deadly neurotoxin produced by algae, that is appearing in Central Coast waters at record levels.
Dying or dead sea lions have been spotted along the coast line throughout San Luis Obispo County.
Algae produces the domoic acid, it is eaten by shellfish and plankton-eating fish, and then they are eaten by sea lions, brown pelicans, otters, whales and dolphins, all of which have been found ill or dead in large numbers recently, or, in the case of pelicans, literally dropping dead out of the sky.
The toxin attacks the brain causing loss of motor coordination, amnesia, violent seizures, vomiting, permanent neurological damage and even heart failure within two days.
Scientist became aware of the deadly algae more than 30 years ago. In 1987, 107 people on Prince Edward Island fell ill after eating mussels harboring domoic acid.
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