Challenges Facing Marine Animal Rescue
Marine Animal Rescue encounters marine life afflicted with a variety of ailments every day. The majority of these conditions have been caused or exacerbated by humankind. Here are some of the most common ailments:
Domoic Acid Poisoning
Caused by a harmful algal bloom that reach dangerous levels in warming waters, domoic acid poisoning affects both pinnipeds and cetaceans, pelicans and other sea birds. It is ingested through direct contact with algae or phytoplankton containing the neurotoxin, or through bioaccumulation in food sources.
Domoic acid poisoning results in tremors, seizures, brain damage, and death. Incidence of domoic acid poisoning peaks during spring; and on a given day Marine Animals Rescue might be called to assist seven or eight animals afflicted with this crippling illness. Agricultural runoff and the introduction of foreign species via ships, along with climate disruption, have all been cited as possible explanations for the ever-increasing number of domoic acid poisonings in marine mammals in recent years.
Fish Nets and Hooks
These tools of commercial interests and private angling find their ways around and into marine mammals, and some are rescued. Unfortunately, most animals who become entangled in fishing nets are unable to free themselves and will die of asphyxiation before they are ever noticed. Severe lacerations around the animal’s mouth can cause intense discomfort and prevent the animal from eating properly. Those who survive might beach themselves, exhausted and starving.
After detangling the animal or removing the hooks, Marine Animal Rescue determines whether the animals we find are well enough to be released back into habitat immediately, or if a short period of rest and rehabilitation is necessary to ensure survival.
Cancers in marine mammals rise steadily each year; this increase might be linked to chemical contamination of the marine environment.
To catch fish, people have used explosive devices, hoping to deter marine mammals from interfering with their equipment or catch. Seal bombs cripple and kill those they are meant to deter.
Seal bombs are small pieces of dynamite that can detonate under water. Often, a seal bomb is placed inside a fish and fed to a sea lion – even though deliberately using seal bombs to harm marine life is prohibited.