Pregnant sea lions dying from toxic algae off SoCal coast

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- The wet winter helped the drought, but is harming some marine life.

This month alone, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach has treated at least 25 pregnant sea lions who got sick from toxic algae.

They all suffer from ingesting domoic acid from an algae bloom, exploding in growth because of our wet winter.

The fish eat the toxic algae and the sea lions eat the fish - the pregnant ones eat a lot of it - poisoning them.

Despite the center's best efforts, the toxins attack the brain. It causes them to be lethargic, have seizures and potentially die.

Of the 25 pregnant sea lions rescued, 14 died, according to the center's Krysta Higuchi.

The toxin also causes the pregnant sea lions to give birth prematurely.

"Kind of a catch .22 because it actually makes the mother better, because it's flushing out all those toxins," Higuchi said. "Unfortunately the baby doesn't survive."

A small army of volunteers works to nurse and feed the sick sea lions.

Other rescues up and down the coast are also seeing the toxin.

The center is asking for the community's help - donations such as toilet paper, paper towels, gift cards for Amazon or Target and other items are listed on the group's website.
Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.