Demoic Acid Killing Marine Mammals

A natural toxin that has spread throughout the marine ecosystem off the West Coast, killing sea mammals and poisoning various other species.

Kathi Lefebvre, the lead research biologist at the Wildlife Algal Toxin Research and Response Network, said Wednesday that her organization had examined about 250 animals stranded on the West Coast and had found domoic acid, a toxic chemical produced by a species of algae, in 36 animals of several species.

“We’re seeing much higher contamination in the marine food web this year in this huge geographic expanse than in the past,” Lefebvre said.

She said that the toxin had never before been found in animals stranded in Washington or Oregon, and that there were most likely greater numbers of contaminated marine mammals not being found by humans.

Domoic acid is a naturally occurring toxin that in severe cases can cause excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short-term memory, coma or death in human.

Click here to read an article on this natural toxin threatening marine mammals.

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  1. Geir Rasmussen

    The whale deaths are caused by naturally occurring algae that produce a strong neurotoxin called domoic acid. When concentrations of the algae Pseudo-nitzschia were high, the more young whales died; and conversely, when the algae density dropped, so did the number of deaths.
    It will be interesting to see how long it takes for environmental NGO’s – such as Oceana – to admit that these are indeed natural deaths and that they have nothing to do with Shipping or Seismic Acquisition. Environmental NGO’s have a track record of feeding social media with false narratives about the impact of Shipping and Seismic on the health of whale populations. Indeed, NOAA Fisheries, the agency charged by the US Congress to administer the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and which is the US authority on the science behind these matters, stated in a 2012 public filing regarding seismic surveys, “To date, there is no evidence that injury, death or stranding by marine mammals can occur from exposure to air-gun pulses, even in the case of large air-gun arrays”. Furthermore, the US National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council stated: “No scientific studies have conclusively demonstrated a link between exposure to sound and adverse effects on a marine mammal populations”.

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