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Ushanka attack in California. They bite beachgoers, but it’s not their fault

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California sea lions are increasingly injuring beachgoers on Southern California beaches. As experts explain, toxic algae are responsible for the unusual behavior of animals. The chemical substance secreted by them is deadly not only for long eared lions, but also for other marine mammals.

Southern California beachgoers face an unexpected threat: California eared lions, also known as sea lions (Zalophus californianus). Although animals usually only attack when they feel threatened, there are more and more cases of biting in seemingly random situations. In the past week alone, marine mammals have injured at least two people on beaches in Orange County and five in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, local media reported.

Sick and confused

What is behind the extremely aggressive behavior of long eared ears? According to experts, it is the result of poisoning with neurotoxins secreted by marine algae, whose record bloom was recorded this year in California.

“It’s not like an angry sea lion chases people down the beach to bite them,” explained Alissa Deming of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC). – When animals go into convulsions, they very often run into surfers and bite blindly. (…) They are in such a bad condition that when they collide with something, they can bite – she added.

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The substance that is responsible for the unusual behavior of long eared ears is domoic acid, produced by diatoms of the genus Pseudo-nitzschia. Its high concentration has been observed in counties Santa Barbara, Ventura and Orange. This year’s algae bloom is one of the largest ever seen in Orange County, according to PMMC data. This phenomenon is observed more and more often, especially during El Niño years, when the ocean is warmer.

California Ushanka – pic. illustrativeAshley-Belle Burns/Shutterstock

Huge threat to animals

Algae blooms occur in spring and autumn. Diatoms are swallowed by fish, which are then eaten by marine mammals. Eating a large amount of poisoned fish causes brain damage, convulsions and even death in animals. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), more than 1,000 individuals have died from it this month in southern California, and many more are seriously ill. Marine fauna care and rehabilitation centers have problems with housing the animals.

She explained that the thighs are not at risk of contracting domoic acid after biting the sea lion – poisoning occurs through food, for example by eating poisoned seafood. The California Department of Public Health routinely tests clams, mussels and scallops for domoic acid toxins. Shellfish collectors are required to provide samples for analysis on a weekly basis.

Los Angeles Times, tvnmeteo.pl

Main photo source: Ashley-Belle Burns/Shutterstock (illustration photo)

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