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4th June, 2011

Algal neurotoxins found in Hawaiian monk seals

Media Watch, Scientific American, 2 June 2011

More than 30 years after 50 critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals (Monachus schauinslandi) died of suspected algal toxic poisoning, the presence of ciguatoxins in living seals has finally been confirmed through a new, noninvasive test.

Ciguatoxins are produced by dinoflagellates, which live near coral and seaweed. The dinoflagellates are eaten by small fish, which are fed on by larger fish that are in turn consumed by predators such as seals and humans. Ingesting ciguatoxins produces an illness known as ciguatera, which produces gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms. [Continues]

Source: Algal neurotoxins found in endangered Hawaiian monk seals by John Platt, Scientific American 2 June 2011

8th December, 2010

Cat parasite threat to Hawaiian monk seals

Media Watch, Environmental Health News, 8 December 2010

On the beaches of the Hawaiian islands, monk seals are dying from a pathogen in cat feces that is carried to the ocean in polluted runoff and sewage. Experts worry that the disease, toxoplasmosis, will derail efforts to restore the endangered species. With only about 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals left in the wild, the deaths are “very concerning and put toxo as one of our primary concerns” for the species, says NOAA scientist Charles Littnan. Throughout most of Hawai`i, surface water quality ranges from “slightly impaired to severely impaired,” according to a state assessment. In particular, runoff from densely populated watersheds on Maui and O`ahu likely contains pathogens that infect the seals. […]

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