Save Marine Wildlife from Deadly Nitrogen Runoff

sea lion

Target: Shawn Johnson, Director of Veterinary Science at the Marine Mammal Center

Goal: Save marine wildlife from biotoxins caused by nitrogen runoff on California coasts

On the coast of California, fisheries are closing and wildlife animals are at serious risk of seizures. The reason is a deadly neurotoxin produced by algae as a result of nitrogen runoff. As nitrogen runoff increases, the biotoxin–domoic acid–is reaching record-high levels along California’s central coast. Domoic acid is not only a threat to animals, it also poses a great threat to humans.

The marine environment is being drastically altered by the surge of nitrogen in runoff due to increased use in fertilizer and septic tanks. After the domoic acid is produced by the algae, it is ingested by smaller marine wildlife such as shellfish and sardines. The lethal toxin then makes its way up the food chain to sea lions, pelicans, otters, whales, dolphins, and humans. After ingesting domoic acid, the toxin first attacks the hippocampus in the brain causing an array of damage including loss of motor coordination, violent seizures, vomiting and even heart failure. In many cases involving pelicans, the birds literally drop dead from the sky. The Marine Mammal Center has been rescuing nearly twenty seizing sea lions a day. For many of those sea lions, help had come too late as they succumb to the effects of the toxin.

The deadly effects of domoic acid are doing serious damage to the marine ecosystem. This can be easily prevented if those living along the central coast of California, such as in Monterey, decrease the amount of fertilizer they use. Monterey is home to many golf courses, which often require a lot of fertilizer. However, greener grass is not worth it if it means threatening the lives of marine animals and humans. Sign this petition and help save marine wildlife from this deadly toxin.


Dear Shawn Johnson,

Many people do not expect to go to the beach and see the bodies of sea lions being washed up on shore. This deadly toxin, domoic acid, is wreaking havoc among the marine wildlife by causing violent seizures, vomiting, and heart failure. Domoic acid doesn’t only affect animals such as sea lions; pelicans, sardines,  and shellfish, human are also at risk of this lethal neurotoxin.

As you well know, once ingested, domoic acid attacks the hippocampus in the brain and causes serious damage. The problem with this toxin can be easily quelled if the people living along the coast of California decrease the amount of septic tanks and fertilizer being used. The nitrogen runoff from the fertilizer and septic tanks cause the algae to produce this deadly toxin. I urge you to help stop the nitrogen runoff from killing any more marine animals.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Vassil via Wikimedia Commons

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