Reuters videos

“Unprecedented Cancer Rate” in California Sea Lions

[Dr. Cara Field, Medical Director, The Marine Mammal Center]“She is very thin. She is underweight. She was down in San Luis Obispo County and when some of the emergency services called her on the beach because she was acting abnormally, rocking her head a little, and she didn’t leave the beach when people approached her. So all of these things tell us that something is wrong. But we didn’t know what it could be until we got her here. ”When this female sea lion came ashore in California, first responders knew something was wrong. Once she was sedated on Sausalitoan ultrasound by Medical at the Marine Mammal Center Director Dr. Cara Field showed more worrisome signs: “This is a very, very bad kidney.” This sea lion has been euthanized. And unfortunately, it’s a common ending for California sea lions who are brought here for a common and incurable diagnosis: Urogenital cancer. A cancer that has ravaged these marine mammals. “Many of these animals are literally fighting for their lives. You will be washed ashore. They get stranded because all they have to do is find a place to stretch out. And many of them are on the verge of death. “Almost 25% of adult California sea lions end up with this cancer, according to a study published in Frontiers in Marine Science in December. The highest prevalence of cancer in all mammals, including humans yet – the study found two main culprits behind the high cancer rates of long-banned chemical pesticides such as DDTs and PCBs found in sea lion fat and the presence of a carcinogenic herpes virus. “This is extraordinary and really quite terrible. This is an unprecedented cancer rate in wildlife. It’s not uncommon for animals to get cancer, but they usually occur singly or possibly in low numbers. But in California, sea lions have this genitourinary cancer, we’re seeing unprecedented numbers. And the strong association with herpes viruses and pollutants in the environment is a great warning to us to pay attention what’s happening in the oceans. ”The study included samples from nearly 400 sea lions over 20 years in mammalian breeding grounds near the Channel Islands in Southern California, where toxic chemicals had been dumped for years. DDT was banned in the US in the 1970s, and PCBs were banned in 1979 after being linked to cancer and other health problems, making their way through the food chain and eventually into the babble of sea lions. It warns people. “One of the most important things to remember is that there is a strong link between cancer and pollutants in the environment. And this message is so incredibly important because we share some of these resources. We often eat the same fish. We swim in the same water and relax in the same water. California sea lions roam our coastline and we certainly enjoy watching them. But to know that there is this presence, this huge presence of this untreatable disease and that it is linked to toxins, to pollutants that humans have brought into the environment, that really makes you think and makes you want to take action to improve our environment, not only for the sea lions but also for ourselves. “