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April 23, 2002

Toxic trouble hits Brown Pelicans

Southern California center appeals to the public for help

California's population of endangered Brown Pelicans are facing another threat to their populations this spring. A naturally occurring biotoxin is killing the birds off California's coast, from Santa Barbara to San Diego. The toxin, which is caused by an algae bloom, similar to Red Tide, affects the nervous system, causing death if not promptly treated with emergency medical care.

The International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) in San Pedro, is appealing to the public to help with manpower and money to treat the birds. The center's veterinarians have developed an aggressive fluid therapy to flush the toxin out of the bird‚s system before it causes permanent brain damage and death.

"We are able to save the birds using this method," says Jeannie Magis, rehabilitation manager, "but it is very labor intensive and expensive. We need volunteers immediately to help our staff, as well as donations of money to buy the fluids and fish needed to save the birds."

Outbreaks of domoic acid affect the food chain, including mussels, anchovies and sardines. In years past, hundreds of marine mammals have died, and now the pelicans, which feed mainly on anchovies and sardines, are falling victim to this deadly algae bloom.

IBRRC's rehabilitation center is located at the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center, 3601 South Gaffey, next to the Marine Mammal Center in Fort MacArthur. Anyone interested in volunteering should call the center at 310-514-2573 or 2574.

Donations can be taken to the center or mailed to IBRRC, P.O. Box 2816, San Pedro, 90731. IBRRC manages the San Pedro facility as part of the California's Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN).

For more information, as well as directions to the center , please see the bird center's website at www.ibrrc.org.

See also:

More info on outbreaks of domoic acid in coastal waters

Donate funds to help save the pelicans

Return to list of press releases

Media contact:

Karen Benzel

Office: (831) 622-7588

E-mail: karen@ibrrc.org

 

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