Sea lion still undergoing tests

July 9, 2008 6:53:04 PM PDT
The wayward sea lion rescued from a Santa Clara aqueduct on Monday is being held for more tests at the Marine Mammal Center in Marin County, according to a center spokesman.

The sea lion, named "San Tomas" after the expressway near where she was found, will undergo a more formal exam on Thursday, along with a brain test to see if the animal is suffering from domoic acid poisoning.

Center spokesman Jim Oswald said veterinarians will perform an electroencephalography on Thursday to see if the animal has abnormal brain waves from the possible poisoning.

"She's doing fine as far as we can tell," Oswald said. However, the poisoning, which affects sea lions that get exposed to harmful algal blooms, may have caused the sea lion to lose its way and enter the aqueduct, where it was trapped for more than a week.

"It's a possible reason. One of the effects of long-term exposure is that it can cause animals to get disoriented," Oswald said. "We don't know if it has that, which is why we have to do the proper testing."

The center has observed an increase in the harmful algal blooms, which can be fatal to sea lions, since its first diagnosed case in 1998, according to Oswald.


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