San Diego sea lions exposed to toxic algae

Posted at 7:12 PM, Apr 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-12 22:12:02-04

LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) — Officials from Sea World said they have rescued at least half a dozen sea lions in San Diego after they suspected the animals were exposed to toxic algae. 

“They're suffering and it's hard for them,” said Samantha Greco, who is visiting the Children’s Pool in La Jolla. 

David Caron, an expert in harmful algae outbreak at the University of Southern California said the sea lions were poisoned after eating sardines and anchovies - fish that were also exposed to the toxins. 

At least 14 female sea lions got sick in Orange County last week after being exposed to Domoic acid.

“I feel bad that it’s hard for them because their environment is like that and it's bad,” said Greco.

Caron said his lab works with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and they will be taking samples from the Scripps Pier to test for the algae. 

Though rare, experts said humans who eat shellfish can also be exposed to the toxins and it can affect their brain. 

“It helps a lot when people are keeping tabs on it and making sure everything is ok,” said Greco. 

Officials at Sea World said they’re treating the infected sea lions by flushing out their system in hopes of getting rid of the poison. 

Caron said multiple factors contribute to how these toxic blooms happen, including the right combination of temperature and sunlight.