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Testing detects algal toxins in Alaska marine mammals

A new study by the NOAA, and its partners on federal, state, local, and academic level has found that toxins from “harmful algae are present in Alaskan marine food webs in high enough concentrations to be detected in marine mammals such as whales, walruses, sea lions, seals, porpoises, and sea otters”. Since the mid-90s, toxin poisoning from algae has been detected in sea lions in central California. This is the first known time the toxic algae have been detected in marine mammals from southeast Alaska to the Arctic Ocean. Test of more than 900 marine mammals found stranded in Alaska from 2004-2013, detected algal toxins, domoic acid, and saxitoxin in low levels in some of the marine mammals examined. The species were from all regions in Alaska. While the results of the study are concerning, what’s promising is that the toxic levels are “well below” the threshold for seafood safety regulatory limits. And the Alaska Department of Health hasn’t made any changes to regarding seafood safety. The NOAA and its partners will continue to conduct studies on Alaskan marine mammals.

For more on the toxic algae detected in marine mammals, follow the link:

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