Wildlife officials have set up a temporary resting zone along the Marina del Rey coast for sea lions sickened by a toxic algae bloom.
The area is surrounded by fencing at Charlie Beach, where eight sea lions are currently being treated by volunteers.
Wildlife experts, along with Los Angeles city and county officials unveiled the resting area during a news conference Thursday addressing an alarming spike in cases.
Overall, there’s been more than 1,000 sea lions reported sick or dead because of the toxic algae. Experts say domoic acid from the algae gets into the sea lions through their food and causes several health problems.
The toxic bloom is making sea lions aggressive and the mammals have been attacking beachgoers and surfers who have gotten too close.
“I have personally witnessed what happens when sea lions are in distress, it’s a heart wrenching sight. These normally vibrant creatures have seizures,” Los Angeles Councilwoman Traci Park said.
John Warner, CEO of the Marine Mammal Care Center, described the resting zone as the first of its kind.
“It’s the first time we had a county work with us to do something like this and it’s the first time our partners at NOAA had such a request from any county within the United States for such a thing because the numbers were overwhelming and because Los Angeles is unique in that sea lions do come out on beaches,” Warner said.
Humans who get too close to sickened mammals could end up being sick as well, and as more people start flocking to local beaches as temperatures rise, officials hope to raise awareness of the issue.
They ask anyone who encounters a sick sea lion to avoid it at all costs and report it to 1-800-39-WHALE.