Dead and sick otters in California – 04/16/2004

  • September 30, 2013 at 8:14 pm #457

    The Associated Press

    SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – More than 20 sea otters have been
    discovered dead or sick along a bay in central California in the past
    week, and scientists suspect a natural marine toxin.

    The dead or sickened animals represent nearly 1 percent of the wild
    population of the southern sea otter, a threatened species protected
    under federal law. Many were found comatose or suffering from
    seizures or muscle tremors, scientists said Wednesday.

    Wildlife experts believe the otters may have eaten mussels, clams and
    scallops contaminated with domoic acid – a naturally occurring toxin
    found in algae blooms at this time of year.

    Post-mortem examinations on 12 otters and tests on tissue samples are
    expected to reveal what killed or sickened the animals.

    Other marine mammals, birds and humans can also suffer nervous
    system damage from eating shellfish and fish that contain domoic acid.

    The state Department of Health Services has warned the public not to
    eat sport-caught shellfish in San Luis Obispo County.

    Only 2,505 otters were counted in their current range between Santa
    Barbara and Half Moon Bay during a 2003 census. The population must
    exceed 3,000 to be taken off the federal government’s list of
    threatened species.

    A year ago this month, 48 otters died, the highest short-term
    mortality rate in modern times. Their deaths were attributed to
    marine toxins, shark bites and parasites, including one linked to cat

    April 16, 2004 8:23 AM

The forum ‘Strange Animal Deaths’ is closed to new topics and replies.