Kathi A. Lefebvre, et al
Harmful Algae journal, Volume 55, May 2016, pp 13-24
Summary of Abstract:
Harmful algal blooms along the west coast of the U.S.A. have been causing marine mammals to suffer and die from poisoning by neurotoxins formed by the algae. The area over which this occurs is likely to increase due to climate change. This could cause more suffering and death of marine mammals as far north as Alaska.
This research study concerns the distribution of two potent neurotoxins formed by algae, domoic acid (DA) and saxitoxin (STX). The research involved taking samples from 13 marine mammal species in Alaskan waters, including 7 species of seals, 3 species of whales, Pacific walruses, harbor porpoises, and northern sea otters.
The researchers found that all 13 species had DA, and 10 of the species had STX. The highest prevalence was in bowhead whales, with 68% showing the presence of DA and harbor seals, with 67% having DA in their bodies. Half of the humpback whales had STX in them. Pacific walruses had both STX and DA in them and the DA was at concentrations similar to the concentration of DA that caused toxicosis in California sea lions of central California. These toxins also passed from mothers to their babies.