Biotoxin suspected of causing dolphin deaths

Experts believe a biotoxin found in coastal algae blooms and sardines that perished in a massive die-off in Redondo Beach killed two common dolphins that came ashore in Newport Beach last week.

Samples taken during necropsies performed on the animals at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach have been sent to a lab in Los Angeles for confirmation, said Michele Hunter, director of operations and animal care for the center. The results are expected by Thursday, she said.

“We are highly suspicious that it was domoic acid poisoning,” Hunter said.

Domoic acid is a naturally occurring biotoxin found in algae blooms off the California coast. It is increased, in part, by fertilizers and other pollutants that wash out to sea. It remains dormant in fish and shellfish that feed on the plankton until larger mammals and birds feed on the fish that have ingested the substance.

The toxin can result in seizures, brain damage, partial paralysis, foaming at the mouth, disorientation and death.

Source: Manhatten Beach Patch

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