Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
In the past two weeks, 6 dolphins have become stranded on Southern California beaches and have left animal rescue organizations puzzled as to why. As the Pacific Marine Mammal Center said, this is a drastic uptick in stranded animals as during this time last year they only responded to one incident of a stranded dolphin. The LA Times reported that one potential cause are the recent storms that can make ocean water toxic as a result of runoff.
Kristen Sakamaki, a veterinarian at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center told KTLA that “There are a variety of potential reasons as to why these dolphins are stranding. These include, but are not limited to, viral infections, bacterial infections, and toxins. We may not always get a definitive answer, but we consider our research with these dolphins to be a very important piece to the puzzle in providing clues as to what is going on in our nearshore habitats.” The LA Times explained further that “recent heavy rains may also be to blame. The rain runoff from the land can result in excess nutrients and harmful toxins in the ocean, the organization said. But officials won’t know the real answer until their studies and the necropsies are complete. The center said it is working with agencies, including NOAA, and academic universities across the country to try and understand the unusual increase of beached dolphins.
Officials warned the public that the marine mammals can carry zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted to pets and humans, especially young children. Attempting to push beached marine mammals back into the ocean “may actually be doing more harm than good.”
Anyone who sees a stranded marine mammal can call the organization at (949) 494-3050.
Why This Matters: While marine mammals are resilient animals they can serve as indicators of changes in their ocean environment. When epidemics of beached marine mammals occur, it’s a red alert that some sort of pathogen or environmental disruptor is harming coastal waters. In recent years one particular diatom, Pseudonitzchia australis, has been responsible for producing a toxin called Domoic acid toxicosis, that could have dramatic effects on marine mammal populations as it causes sickness and death in animals and results from algal blooms made worse by climate change.
Go Deeper: An atmospheric river has been drenching California and parts of Southern California haven’t seen this much rain in decades. While this rain is generally welcome in a drought-prone state, there is too much of a good thing as increased rain can cause mudslides and all sorts of toxins to wash into the ocean as we’ve seen from this story. Additionally, climate change is thought to make these atmospheric rivers more potent.
Oysters are the unsung heroes of our oceans and estuaries. A single oyster can filter 50 gallons of water each day, while oyster reefs help protect coastal communities from erosion and storm surges and provide other marine species with habitat. In Pensacola, FL, The Nature Conservancy is leading the effort to place 33 oyster reefs […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer A new study has found that half of the nation’s tidal marshes are at risk of being destroyed by sea-level rise, most of them along the southern coasts of the contiguous U.S. Now, members of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, whose one million residents live along coastal areas stretching from Jacksonville, North Carolina, to […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer St. Petersburg, Florida, has fallen victim to what could be one of the most prolonged red tides in recent history. Hundreds of tons of dead sea life have washed up on shores as the ecological disaster takes root, and experts say the end isn’t yet in sight. Officials are trying to pinpoint […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.