We all share a connection with marine mammals and the ocean! The Save Our Seals - Save Ourselves campaign inspires all of us to care about marine mammals because we all share and rely upon a vast resource - the oceans. Visit this page to learn more about the important work The Marine Mammal Center is doing right now!
A record number of patients were admitted to The Marine Mammal Center in 2009!
In 2009, we admitted more than 1,700 patients, more than any other year since we began operations in 1975.
Many of these patients are suffering from the devastating effects of toxic algal blooms and marine debris found in our oceans and caused by human carelessness.
Domoic Acid Poisoning
We continue to admit an increased number of California sea lions that are stranding along the San Luis Obispo County coastline at the southern end of our 600-mile rescue range. Most of these sea lions are suffering from domoic acid poisoning, which is caused by a toxic algal bloom. Domoic acid poisoning was first discovered in sea lions at the Center in 1999.
The poisoning occurs when the sea lions eat anchovies and sardines that have fed on the algae, which has produced a neurotoxin. The exact cause for the blooms is unknown, but scientists believe that it may result from warming waters, excessive fishing, urban development, pollutant run off, or a combination of all of these conditions.
Many of the patients that are suffering from domoic acid poisoning are found disoriented, malnourished, and suffering from seizures, which often leads them to being stranded in places they wouldn't normally go; when sea lions are sick from this poison they have been found much farther inland, next to highways and even at airports.
When the sea lions arrive at The Marine Mammal Center, they are treated with injections of anti-seizure medication and/or placed on saline drips to flush the neurotoxin from their systems. However, for those sea lions that have a chronic case of domoic acid poisoning, little can be done. This harmful toxin permanently damages the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory and navigation.
Domoic acid can also affect humans - in humans t is known a Amnesic Shell Fish Poisoning. It can cause memory loss, seizures, comas, and even death in humans.
Entanglements in Marine Debris
Seals and sea lions can become entangled in all sorts of common trash items, including packing straps, plastic "six pack" rings from canned beverages, tires, and even helium balloon ribbons. These items have extremely harmful consequences that can cause the animals to stop swimming, eating, and breathing; as the animal grows, the entanglement tightens, choking them, creating massive wounds, which can result in death.
The Center has also seen an increase in the number of malnourished and starving sea lions. These animals are even more at risk of ingesting marine debris because they simply think it is food.
HOW CAN I HELP?
Become a member of The Marine Mammal Center.
It's the difference between life and death for these amazing animals. With more than 30,000 annual members, it's one of the most important "clubs" on the planet, and the one we rely on more than any other.
For just $25 a year, you not only help us to provide the best care and service we can for marine mammals, but you also get the latest news, discounts in our retail stores, and access to exclusive events for members only throughout the year.
Make a difference. Join the club!
Click here to become a member today.
And remember – here are just a few ways you can actively help the ocean and marine mammals:
- Reduce the toxins you use on your lawn and garden that end up in waterways.
- Bring your own reusable canvas or cotton bag to the grocery store or to the mall to carry your purchases. You can also reuse paper or plastic bags to help reduce trash.
- Dispose of fishing lines and lures properly to help keep them out of the ocean as animals can mistakes them for food or become entangled in them.
- Avoid releasing helium balloons into the sky as they often end up in bodies of water.
- If purchasing beverages attached with "six pack" plastic rings, cut the rings apart before throwing them away. Birds, fish, and small land animals can get caught in the rings.