LOS ANGELES - Two months after they were rescued from beaches across Southern California amid a widespread toxic algal bloom that had contaminated ocean waters, two sea lions were released back into their habitat Wednesday.
According to the Marine Mammal Care Center, 47 sea lions sick from domoic acid poisoning in late June were rescued within a two-week span.
The rapid growth of harmful algae along parts of the Southern California coast is suspected to be the cause of death and stranding for the sea lions and dolphins.
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In response, the Los Angeles Unified School District helped provide temporary outdoor space for the center to expand its triage care for sea lions.
The toxic algae produces a neurotoxin called domoic acid, which accumulates in fish such as sardines, anchovies, and squid. The toxin then transfers to predators such as sea lions and birds that prey on the fish — causing seizures, brain damage, and sometimes death.
According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), domoic acid, a harmful algal toxin, is one of the foremost threats to marine animals. Sea lions with domoic acid often suffer from seizures, dehydration, severe vomiting, aggressive behavior or lethargic unresponsiveness, miscarriages, and even death.