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Wednesday, August 27, 2008
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.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Photos: Sue Pemberton, The Marine Mammal Center
The Marine Mammal Center went out on an exciting rescue yesterday in South San Francisco. Our Stranding Department received a call that a California sea lion was stuck in a muddy canal about 2 miles inland, and sent out a rescue crew, including Lincoln Shaw and Sue Pemberton, two volunteers who have previous experience rescuing sea lions from unusual locations. When they arrived, they found a sub-adult male sea lion stuck at the bottom of a concrete canal without easy access. Just as they had determined that a rescue attempt would be unsafe and impossible, firemen from Fire Station 61 located across the street arrived and said they would like to help. Using an aerial ladder and a Stokes Litter attached to rigging, the Fire Department helped The Marine Mammal Center's team hoist the animal, which had been herded into a carrier, out of the canal and onto solid ground. The Center named the animal "Station 61" in honor of the firemen who helped. Now that's teamwork!
The animal was transported back to our hospital in Sausalito, where it was weighed (235 lbs.), and will be treated by veterinarians. However, the prognosis is very guarded for this animal. He was gasping and lethargic when he was rescued, and continues to have labored breathing. Also, whenever older sea lions are found in unusual locations exhibiting signs of agitation, it usually means there is something seriously wrong with their health. We will keep you posted on "Station 61's" condition. Thanks to the great firemen who helped us with what must be a very unusual rescue for them!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Left, the support beams for the shade structures/solar panels are installed.
Right, a pool with completed shade structure beams.
- The use of natural ventilation for cooling interior spaces.
- Windows and skylights to maximize natural interior lighting, reducing power consumption
- Use of pervious concrete ,allowing storm water to seep through the concrete into the ground below, eliminating discharge directly into the ocean.
- Modern life support systems for treating pen and pool water, and the use of backwash recovery systems to significantly limit discharge to sanitary sewer.
- On site recycling during demolition (separation of wood, metal, concrete, etc.)
- Water efficient landscaping with native plantings requiring no irrigation.
- Concrete with a 15% content of fly ash that is recovered from gases created by coal-fired electric power generation, which is usually dumped in landfills.
- Rough carpentry with 50% of wood used in project is certified by the Forrest Stewardship Council (FSC-certified).
Use of chemical-free materials or materials with reduced chemical preservatives and treatments wherever possible.
- And much more!
Friday, August 8, 2008
On Thursday, August 7, The Marine Mammal Center was honored to host a delegation from Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey’s office. Congresswoman Woolsey and her staff, who represent
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Left, leptospirosis-affected sea lions gather around a water dish.
Right, "Beijing", a California sea lion with a leptospirosis infection, gulps down water.
Recently, California sea lions have started coming in with leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that has periodic outbreaks in that population. The bacteria is contagious, and spreads among groups. It can also be spread to other animals, which is one of the reasons that the Center's staff and visitors are never permitted to bring their pets to our animal care facilities, and volunteers and vets take care to step in antibacterial baths and clean the pens and themselves well after treating animals affected by leptospirosis.
One of leptospirosis' effects is that the bacteria damages the kidneys. This causes the animal to become dehydrated and thirsty as the kidneys fail. In general, healthy sea lions do not drink water, as they receive all the moisture they need from their food. So when sea lions come in to our facility and display behaviors like drinking water, they are suspected of having leptospirosis and the volunteers are then asked to collect a urine sample for testing. If caught in time, leptospirosis is treatable. However, once the kidneys become too damaged, it is irreversible and the animal will die.
Our veterinary staff and volunteers are working hard to try to save these sick sea lions. Some are very ill, and may not survive. However, whenever one is successfully treated and released back to the wild, the hard work is worth the sense of satisfaction that accomplishment brings. Stay tuned, as this topic may not go away. Because of leptospirosis' infectious nature, that unfortunately means we may see more cases in the coming period.
Monday, August 4, 2008
The post mortem exam revealed that Gettysburg had numerous other wounds on his body, which indicates that he likely sustained his flipper injury while fighting with other male sea lions during the June-July breeding season. It's a shame that this beautiful animal had to be euthanized, but ultimately, this saved him from any more suffering. Many volunteers and veterinary staff worked hard to try to rehabilitate him. His discomfort was eased and he was provided a humane response to a condition which likely would have resulted in a slow and painful death in the wild.