Saturday, January 10, 2009

Domoic Acid Source of Pelican Distress?

According to the International Bird Rescue Research Center, three of the six distressed Brown Pelicans tested in California tested positive for domoic acid poisoning.

This afternoon we received results from initial domoic acid tests which indicate some levels of domoic acid in the pelicans. While 3 out of the 6 birds tested were positive for domoic acid, we cannot conclude that the neurotoxin is the primary cause of the widespread illness. See more on our website

Samples of phytoplankton collected recently from the waters off of Santa Barbara to Newport Beach were also tested. 5 out of 14 samples indicated very low concentrations.

These are the first of many test results expected. Additional blood and tissue samples are being tested and we anticipate more information within the next two weeks.
So, domoic acid is part of the problem, but not the only problem, or perhaps even the main problem. Something is seriously wrong when large numbers of birds start to turn up disoriented or starving, so it is not surprising that there is more to the story. I will be watching this case with interest.

In the meantime, keep an eye on the IBRRC blog for the latest updates.