INFORMATION | MARINE MAMMAL AND DOMOIC ACID
From the Marine Mammal Care Organization.
To donate directly:
HOSPITAL ALERT: INFLUX OF PATIENTS AFFECTED BY DOMOIC ACID
Hospital Alerts are activated when something significant or unusual happens with marine mammals in Los Angeles.
The public is urged to stay away from all marine mammals they see on the beach during this DA event.
Report injured and ill marine mammals by calling Marine Mammal Care Center’s Rescue Hotline at 1-800-39-WHALE. Be aware of sea lions with unusual side-to-side head movements and or with their head extended back for fixed periods of time, such as in the picture below.
We currently have over 120 patients in our hospital, many are affected by DA.
We are currently caring for a high volume of patients affected by domoic acid (DA). According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), domoic acid, a harmful algal toxin, is one of the foremost threats to marine animals. It has been identified in marine animals like birds, pinnipeds (seals, sea lions) and cetaceans (whales, dolphins) in nearly all U.S. coastal waters, with regular and increasing frequency along the west coast in particular. DA is produced by the cosmopolitan diatom Pseudo-nitzschia spp. When these toxic algae are consumed by planktivorous fish, the toxin is then capable of entering higher levels of the food web. California sea lions and dolphins are particularly affected during DA events.
Patients with domoic acid often suffer from seizures, dehydration, severe vomiting, aggressive behavior or lethargic unresponsiveness, miscarriages and even death. Treatment for patients with DA involves keeping animals hydrated with fluids given subcutaneously or orally, administering anti-seizure medication, and supporting them nutritionally. Treatments are symptomatic, as there is no cure or standard treatment for DA. If caught early, treatments are more likely to be effective, and patients can have a second chance at a full life.
As these mature animals recover, each consumes 18 – 21 lbs of food per day, significantly more than the pups and yearlings that MMCC treats more routinely. The amount of food, medications and medical samples needed make treating DA more expensive than our typical patients.