Patch By Jacqueline Howard, Nicole Mooradian, and Meredith Skrzypczak, June 1st, 2011.
Research aims to identify what causes production of toxin and how to prevent and mitigate it, scientists tell Patch. When millions of sardines swam to their death in Redondo Beach’s King Harbor Marina in March and dozens of convulsing sea lions struggled ashore in Hermosa Beach in April, researchers found a common thread: Domoic acid was in their systems.
The presence of domoic acid in the ocean waters of Southern California isn’t new. It’s a naturally occurring nerve toxin produced by algae blooms, mostly during the months of March to June.
But researchers say they are concerned about what appears to be a troubling trend—levels of domoic acid are sickening or killing increasing numbers of Pacific Ocean marine animals along the West Coast, particularly in a “hot zone” stretching from California’s Ventura County to the South Bay.