Otter deaths spreading – 05/01/2004

  • September 30, 2013 at 8:26 pm #467

    A rash of sea otter deaths began near Morro Bay earlier this month
    and more than 55 dead otters were taken to the Marine Wildlife
    Veterinary Care and Research Center for examination. Veterinarian
    Dave Jessup said 15 came from Monterey Bay.

    A record 48 otters died in April 2003.

    The deaths are likely due to domoic acid, a natural marine toxin
    produced by algae. It was detected off the Santa Cruz County coast
    last week.

    Another culprit could be toxoplasma gondii, an organism found in cats
    and believed to be transmitted to otters when cat litter is flushed
    down toilets and finds its way out to sea.

    “Both those seem to be going on at the same time,” Jessup said.

    Otters were hunted to near-extinction during the 18th and 19th
    centuries and in 1977 they were listed as threatened under the
    Endangered Species Act. Last spring, an annual survey estimated the
    population at 2,500, a 17 percent increase from a year earlier.

    (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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