VENTURA COUNTY, Calif - The Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute (CIMWI) says they have responded to an increasing number of reports about sick California sea lions.
Sea lions have been showing clinical signs of Domoic Acid toxicosis derived from toxic prey, according to CIMWI.
Toxic algae blooms produce the Domoic Acid toxin but are not harmful to all animals. Filter feeding marine animals including shellfish and small fish consume these toxic algae and do not show signs of illness.
Sea lions eat some prey that have accumulated toxin in their bodies. The sea lions start showing signs of illness after eating the prey that have consumed toxic algae.
The toxin targets the central nervous system and brain causing the sea lions to experience navigation and memory difficulties.
There is no known cure for Domoic Acid. The severity and effects of the illness in sea lions depend on the amount of toxic prey they consume.
Marine mammals have been known to recover from Domoic Acid toxicosis and are able to survive in the wild.
Anyone who finds a marine mammal in distress in Santa Barbara County or Ventura County is encouraged to contact the Rescue Hotline for Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute at 805-567-1505.
CIMWI is also accepting contributions to help the sea lions.