Above, "Station 61" shows signs of failing health under observation at The Marine Mammal Center
This morning, "Station 61" (see previous entry) had severe seizures that confirmed a diagnosis of chronic domoic acid toxicity. Due to the irreversible brain damage that characterizes this condition, he was humanely euthanized. Sea lions that are afflicted with chronic effects of domoic acid poisoning suffer repeating seizures, are unable to navigate or catch fish in the wild, and can starve or drown in the ocean. Therefore, we end their suffering humanely, a decision that is very difficult for veterinarians but ultimately spares the animal a great deal of pain. "Station 61", like other sea lions we have rescued from unusual locations, displayed evidence of damage to his hippocampus, an area of the brain that controls navigation, among other things. The fact that he was found 2 miles inland in a canal indicates that his ability to navigate and his orientation were impaired. In these cases, chronic domoic acid toxicity is always suspected. The animal is then observed to monitor seizures, and tests such as MRIs and EEGs may be performed in order to confirm or rule out the condition. In "Station 61's" case, as with many sea lions rescued under similar circumstances, unfortunately chronic domoic acid toxicity was confirmed. Read more about the condition on our website.
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The Marine Mammal Center is a nonprofit veterinary hospital, research, and educational center dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of ill and injured marine mammals and the study of their health. Since 1975, the Center has rescued and treated more than 16,500 marine mammals and has accumulated a body of knowledge about marine mammal and ocean health. Through public education about marine mammals, the Center hopes to foster ocean stewardship and conservation. For more information, visit http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/