Target: United States Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy
Goal: Create a plan to save sea lions that are becoming disoriented and unable to find food or shelter due to toxic algae.
Sea lions are becoming extremely disoriented to the point that they can’t find food or their way home because of the high levels of toxic algae in the water–a problem caused by global warming. This is contributing to the record number of emaciated sea lions that have been found stranded on the west coast recently.
Large algae blooms produce a neurotoxin called domoic acid that can impair memory and cause seizures and death in smaller animals, including sea lions. Even brief exposure can have a severe impact on basic memory functions, meaning that these sea lions are likely forgetting where their hunting grounds are and forgetting how to get home to safety. Females may even be forgetting to feed their young.
Scans of the brains of sea lions who have died following exposure to domoic acid have revealed lesions on the hippocampus, which is responsible for a large portion of memory function. The toxin has also been found in their stomachs because the fish they eat consume the toxic algae.
All of these factors point to a possible impending disaster for sea lion populations. As a key predator, sea lions are essential for a healthy ecosystem, and their extinction could throw everything out of balance. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency needs to recognize this crisis and immediately make a plan to save sea lions from large-scale deaths due to increasing levels of climate change-fueled toxic algae. Demand that they take action before it’s too late.
Dear Ms. McCarthy,
Increasing numbers of sea lions have been found emaciated and stranded on the U.S. west coast this year. Recent research has led scientists to conclude that the massive toxic algae blooms fueled by global warming are to blame. The toxins produced by the algae are causing them to become disoriented and damaging the memory centers of the brain, making them forget where to find food or how to get home.
If something isn’t done to protect sea lions soon, we may begin to see accelerating die-offs of these important predators, which could easily throw the entire regional ecosystem off balance. Sea lions could even face possible extinction.
Humans caused this toxic algae problem, and we need to do everything we can to protect the animals we’ve harmed with our reckless use of fossil fuels. We urge you to immediately come up with a plan to help the sea lions on the west coast before their numbers start plunging out of control.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: derekkeats