A California sea lion that gave birth at SeaWorld San Diego Wednesday after being rescued from a beach in Oceanside is doing better Thursday, park officials said.
The mother was picked up a day earlier after displaying signs of domoic acid poisoning. The acid is produced by algae and accumulates in shellfish, sardines and anchovies that are then eaten by sea lions, otters, cetaceans and humans, among others, affecting their brains, according to the Marine Mammal Center.
Exposure causes victims to become lethargic, disoriented and have seizures that are sometimes fatal.
“She’s actually become more alert with her clinical symptoms,” veterinarian Dr. Todd Schmitt said. “This is an acute toxicity — we’re trying to flush the toxin with fluids and anti-inflammatories to decrease inflammation on the brain.”
He said animals in the ocean are exposed to the toxin relatively often, especially in the spring because of algae blooms.
The SeaWorld animal care team is providing round-the-clock care to the female baby sea lion, which was born sometime between midnight and 4 a.m. Wednesday. The care for the newborn, which appears to be healthy, includes tube feeding every two or three hours with a sea lion baby milk formula, said Kevin Robinson, a senior animal care specialist.
Schmitt said they’ve also brought the pup in to see its mother so they can begin bonding. The goal is to help the mother regain her health and be reunited with her pup, park officials said.
–City News Service