Skip to comments.Toxic algae blamed for marine species deaths
Posted on 05/08/2002 9:50:42 AM PDT by cogitator
Toxic Algae Blamed for Marine Species Deaths
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SACRAMENTO, California, May 7, 2002 (ENS) - Toxic algae may be contaminating shellfish and killing marine mammals and seabirds along the Southern and Central California coast.
Domoic acid, a naturally occurring toxic algae [that should be algal toxin], is the suspected culprit, say the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) and Department of Fish and Game (DFG). The agencies say dozens of marine mammals, including dolphins and sea lions, have been found beached from San Diego north to Santa Barbara.
Those animals may have become ill by eating small fish containing the toxin. A large number of dead or ill seabirds may also have been affected by the toxin.
Domoic acid is a nerve toxin produced by a particular species of microscopic algae that can cause severe human illness or death. Filter feeders like mussels and small finfish such as sardines feed on the algae and concentrate the toxins.
The CDHS has issued several warnings to consumers advising them to avoid eating all sport harvested species of bivalve shellfish. The quarantine area is in effect for the state's entire coast, including bays and estuaries.
There is also a health advisory for the San Luis Obispo coast warning the public to avoid eating dark colored organs or viscera of anchovies, sardines and crab.
The CDHS is monitoring the toxic plankton bloom along the coast, and has reported record elevated levels of domoic acid in the ocean environment. The last widespread outbreak of the toxic algae occurred in 1998.
"Typically, we issue an Annual Mussel Quarantine from May 1 through October 31 warning consumers about the elevated risk during this period," said Greg Langlois, a biologist with CDHS marine biotoxin program.
"This toxic bloom has reached shore at various locations from Monterey Bay to Ventura and produced very high toxin levels," Langlois continued. "It is our hope that oceanic conditions will shift and push it farther out to sea, or that it will run out of steam in the next few weeks, before reaching shore farther south."
So far, there have been no reported human illnesses connected to the outbreak.
But maybe that sounds too much like an English beer.
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