Algae Ails Sea Lions

Sea lions and other marine life are suffering from illnesses related to algae blooms off the coast.

By Julie Jessup
|  Tuesday, Apr 12, 2011  |  Updated 7:23 AM PDT
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John Koster - For the North County Times

SoCal sea lions are also suffering from allergies this time of year.

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Sick sea lions are washing ashore on Southern California beaches and are suffering from what appears to be seasonal algae-related illnesses.

Unfortunately, the mammals have it worse than just a stuffy nose and itchy eyes. The sea lions are suffering from seizures and paralysis, and are foaming at the mouth.

The culprit seems to be domoic acid poisoning, a toxin that occurs naturally when algae blooms in the springtime. The animals appear to be getting sicker this year than in years past because of extra pollutants and a change in ocean temperatures and currents.

Marine Animal Rescue has removed 34 sea lions from beaches in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties, rescuer Peter Wallerstein told the Los Angeles Times.

Wallerstein said that sick dolphins and pelicans are also being found, and Marine Animal Rescue has been able to rehabilitate about half of the animals.

The public should stay away should they come across an affected animal and notify a lifeguard or call (800) 39-WHALE.

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