This morning on our beach walk, I first noticed three signs and yellow tape.
We stopped to read the signs and a woman approached us wearing a hat that said volunteer for some marine life organization. She said there was a distressed sea lion ahead. It had been resting on the beach behind the signs and yellow tape.
Then when a young woman was walking her pit bull, the dog pulled out of its harness and attacked the sea lion.
The volunteer from the Channel Islands Marine Wildlife Institute told us the sea lion escaped into the ocean. She explained that the sea lion was suffering from Domoic Acid poisoning, which is caused by algae bloom.
My husband said that algae bloom happens every year. Isn’t that a normal thing? Wouldn’t sea lions be used to it?
She said they were inundated with calls about sick sea lions along the coast and that the Domoic Acid poisoning could be fatal. The volunteers were out observing the sea lions from sunrise to sunset along the beaches. Apparently stress could make the illness worse. She was standing on the beach all day to keep people and dogs away from the sick sea lion.
I asked if we could still take our morning walk.
“If you have to,” she answered. “Please stay along the cliffs and as far away from the sea lion as possible.”
We started on our walk, but as we got closer to the sea lion, we turned around. It wasn’t worth it.
We also spotted the young woman with her pit bull walking down a trail to finish their morning walk. She was avoiding the volunteer who was positioned by the signs. The young woman spotted the sea lion in the ocean in front of her and thankfully turned her dog around and headed back up the trail.
If you want to read more about the sea lions and Domoic Acid poisoning, here’s an article from the local news. The article said the Institute is fielding 50 to 100 calls a day.
Who knew that stress was so harmful to sea lions? What are your thoughts about what stress can do to us?