Subject: Beached sea lions dying after seizures (fwd)

Mike Williamson (pita@www1.wheelock.edu)
Sun, 31 May 1998 21:32:59 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: newsclip - Beached sea lions dying after seizures

     Beached sea lions dying after seizures

     May 27, 1998

     SAUSALITO, California (AP) -- A marine rescue center has been trying
     to determine why dozens of sea lions have beached themselves on the
     California coast, many of them dying after suffering seizures.

     Some 60 sea lions found in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties have
     been brought to the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, just south of
     San Francisco. About half have died.

     The strandings began earlier this month on Oceano Dunes in San Luis
     Obispo. Last week, more sea lions flopped themselves on several
     beaches in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.

     Symptoms have included grand mal seizures, loss of coordination,
     vomiting and diarrhea. Most of the sea lions are pregnant females.

     The cause of the seizures is unknown, center spokeswoman Kathy
     Zagzebski said.

     "They're often sitting straight up with their heads back," she said.
     "Some are foaming at the mouth and their whole body twitches."

     A rescue effort by the National Marine Fisheries Services began over
     the Memorial Day weekend.

     Marine experts say similar episodes have occurred every three to five
     years, most recently in 1992. A preliminary analysis of those sea
     lions showed high levels of mercury in their blood.