Posts Tagged ‘Sea Lions’

Toxic Algal Blooms May Cause Seizures In California Sea Lions

June 11, 2008

Scientists, reporting in the current issue of the online journal Marine Drugs, state that an increase of epileptic seizures and behavioral abnormalities in California sea lions can result from low-dose exposure to domoic acid as a fetus. The findings follow an analysis earlier this year led by Frances Gulland of the California Marine Mammal Center that showed this brain disturbance to be a newly recognized chronic disease.

John Ramsdell of NOAA’s Center for Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research in Charleston, SC, in partnership with Tanja Zabka, a veterinary pathologist at the Marine Mammal Center, conducted the first-of-its kind analysis of poisoning by the algal toxin, domoic acid, during fetal brain development. The results, analyzed across multiple animal species, point to the toxin as a cause for behavioral changes and epilepsy that does not become evident until later in life

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Unravelling The Mystery Of The Kitty Litter Parasite In Marine Mammals

June 9, 2008

Researchers at California Polytechnic State University have discovered what may be a clue to the mystery of why marine mammals around the world are succumbing to a parasite that is typically only associated with cats. The key may just be the lowly anchovy, according to research presented today at the 108th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Boston.

Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite which causes toxoplasmosis, considered to be the third leading cause of death attributed to foodborne illness in the United States. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 20% of the U.S. population carries the parasite, the only known reservoir of the infectious form of the parasite (the oocyst) are cats.

Over the past decade, toxoplasma infection has appeared in a variety of sea mammals including beluga whales, dolphins, sea lions and seals. It has also become a major cause of death in sea otters living off the coast of California. It is estimated that approximately 17% of sea otter deaths can be attributed to toxoplasma. While many believe fresh water runoff contaminated with cat feces is to blame, there is no definitive science on the source of infection.

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With animals living longer and advances in medicine, Fresno zoo handles special needs

May 21, 2008

It’s survival of the less-than-fittest at Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

Sheep and goats are on Celebrex. One sea lion is blind and another is half-paralyzed. A hedgehog-like critter is so old it must eat mushy food.

At nearly 20, “it’s like a 170-year-old person,” said zoo veterinarian Lewis Wright.

Advances in medicine mean animals are living longer in Fresno – and in zoos nationwide – even if they have maladies that could make them dinner in the wild.

“It’s a relatively new phenomenon, where zoos have gotten so good at what they do that we are surpassing median life expectancy,” said Andy Snider, the zoo’s director of animal care and conservation.

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Agents trap salmon-eating sea lions in Ore.-Wash. river

April 28, 2008

One by one, curious California sea lions checked out the open cage left invitingly on a platform in the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam and flopped inside to chill out on the nice flat surface.

Big mistake.

Around noon the door clanged shut and state agents concluded their first day of trapping the salmon-hungry sea mammals. The sea lions weren’t having much fun behind bars Thursday, but it beat the bullet between the eyes some came within a whisker of getting under a federal removal authorization.

A day earlier the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that some of the animals could be trapped but not killed in reply to a lawsuit brought by the Humane Society of the United States.

The sea lions are protected by a 1972 federal law. An amendment, however, leaves open the possibility that some can be captured or killed if the states request it. Oregon and Washington did in 2006 with the support of Indian tribes and sport and commercial fishing groups.

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