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Dangerous Algae Toxins Found in 13 Marine Creatures from Alaska

Update Date: Feb 15, 2016 03:05 PM EST

In recent discovery, as many as 13 marine animals in Alaska have been found with algae toxins, as per a new study from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Researchers analyzed feces, stomach and urine of whales, sea lions, walruses, porpoises, seals and sea otters. The results showed two types of toxins - domoic acid and saxitoxin.

"What really surprised us was finding these toxins so widespread in Alaska, far north of where they have been previously documented in marine mammals," Kathi Lefebvre, study leader and a NOAA Fisheries research scientist, said in a news release. "However, we do not know whether the toxin concentrations found in marine mammals in Alaska were high enough to cause health impacts to those animals. It's difficult to confirm the cause of death of stranded animals, as per Nature World News But we do know that warming trends are likely to expand blooms, making it more likely that marine mammals could be affected in the future."

For the purpose of their study, Wildlife Algal-toxin Research and Response Network for the West Coast experts analyzed samples of over 900 sea mammals that were either harvested or stranded in Alaska between 2004 and 2013. Poisoning of sea lions due to Algal toxin has been a common recurrence in Central California since 1998. However, the recent study is the first to record presence of poisonous algae in the region between Arctic Ocean and south region of Alaska, reported Yahoo News

Gay Sheffield, study co-author, raised a flag that the bearded seals and walruses may contain toxic clams in their stomachs, pointing out that they may not be safe for human consumption as they are considered to be a delicacy in western and northern Alaska. Although it is less likely that the parts such as blubber and muscles contain the toxins that can pose a threat to the health of humans, reported Tech Times

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