Domoic acid is a biotoxin produced by harmful marine algae. It can cause acute seizures and long-term brain damage in a variety of marine mammals and humans. Hundreds of California sea lions showing signs from domoic acid toxicity are rescued each year by The Marine Mammal Center for treatment. In the near shore environment, sea otters feed on a variety of prey types such as crabs that can be accumulate high levels of the deadly toxin. The Center recently rescued and rehabilitated two adult sea otters exhibiting neurological signs attributed to domoic acid intoxication. These are the first otters known to be diagnosed and treated for this disease. This talk will detail the otter’s rescue, rehabilitation, and new post-release monitoring technology which will allow us to better understand the long term affects of domoic acid on individual sea otters and the population.
Speaker: Dr. Shawn Johnson, Marine Mammal Center
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