Brain damaged sea lions stranded on California beaches

December 16, 2015

Stellar sea lion Gus sticks his tongue out in his exhibit, part of Stellar Cove at the Oregon Zoo. © Oregon Zoo / Photo by Carli Davidson

An outbreak of algae-produced biotoxins is inflicting brain damage on sea lions along California’s Central Coast. Higher than average ocean temperatures are blamed for the increase in algae blooms. [Scientific American]

Dying or dead sea lions have been spotted along the coast from Santa Barbara County to Alaska.

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.

The toxin attacks the brain causing loss of motor coordination, amnesia, violent seizures, vomiting, permanent neurological damage and even heart failure within two days.

Brain scans on 30 California sea lions detected damage in the hippocampus, a brain structure associated with memory and spatial navigation, in animals naturally exposed to the toxin known as domoic acid, the researchers said. The toxin attacks the brain causing loss of motor coordination, amnesia, violent seizures, vomiting, permanent neurological damage and even heart failure within two days.


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5 Comments

  1. Stunned says:

    Haul them beyond the breakwaters and let nature have her way. It’s a normal life cycle issue.

    (3) 9 Total Votes - 6 up - 3 down
  2. isoslo says:

    Blame it on climate change and Bush

    (-6) 12 Total Votes - 3 up - 9 down
    • r0y says:

      Heh, I don’t think people see the humor in this.

      To this humor, I’d only add: Not to worry, sea lions! Obama has fixed climate change! Everyone met and it will all go away! The earth will never again have warm or cold spells! Rainbows and lollipops will fill the skies, and innocent, soft, cuddly polar bears will be free to brutally kill their prey!

      (-2) 6 Total Votes - 2 up - 4 down
  3. TaxMeAgain says:

    tastes like chicken.

    (-5) 9 Total Votes - 2 up - 7 down

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