Veterinarians at the marine mammal center said Na’au’s posture indicates that she is suffering from acute domoic acid poisoning. The poison occurs naturally and works its way up the food chain, having devastating effects on sea lions like Na'au.
“She has some very serious brain damage,” explained the Marine Mammal Center’s Dr. Bill Van Bonn. “Her brain is not working correctly.”
The staff at the Mammal Center said it would be inhumane to put her back into the wild. But the veterinarians hope Na’au’s death will help other sea lions.
The Marine Mammal Center looks for the positive in the story here:
...through Na’au’s death, there is so much to learn and gain from her experience. Na'au's tissue samples will become part of a ground-breaking study by the Center's colleagues in research that may one day hold the answers to some of science's larger questions about brain disease. It is possible that by studying Na’au and other sea lions like her, scientists could help to unlock the key to some aspect of the mystery surrounding the complex electronic functions of the brain or even epilepsy in humans. It is possibilities such as this that make such difficult endings to one animal's life the beginning to something that may benefit even more lives.
KGO TV video of Na'au from over the weekend below:
- Domoic Acid Poisoning in Sea Lions (Suite 101)