Monday, September 10, 2007

Cat Litter Threatens Dolphin, Whales and Sea Otters

Runoff From Cat Litter and Agriculture Pose Deadly Threat to Marine Mammals

By Hardy Jones, executive director,

The human footprint on the world is heavy indeed, even among the best intentioned.

Cat litter flushed down toilets by pet owners may be the cause of death for dolphins, whales and porpoises around the coast of Britain. Public health experts have found evidence of a common parasite in dead marine mammals and say cat owners who dump litter boxes into toilets could be the unwitting source.

Cats are essential to the life cycle of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, and the only animals which shed T-gondii through their feces, which can infect most mammals and birds when it enters the food chain.

In California concern that cat feces have contributed to sea otter deaths has led to warnings on cat litter bags that contents of litter boxes should be disposed of by placing them in a plastic bag and putting them in the trash. Scientists studying a mysterious decline in sea otters off California are now placing blame on cat owners who flush cat feces into the marine ecosystem through their toilets.

Toxic Algae off Los Angeles Killing Scores of Sea Lions

Toxic algaes known as harmful algal blooms (HABs) are a dramatically increasing problem worldwide. See my last blog about how they are affecting Florida.

The current outbreak of toxic algae off Los Angeles Harbor is the most virulent on record. So many sick and dieing seals and sea lions are stranding on the beaches that marine mammal rehabilitation centers have become overwhelmed. As a result some sickened sea lions cannot be taken to treatment centers.

The affected animals suffer seizures and brain damage brought on by the algae’s powerful neurotoxin.

A question I ask myself constantly is “What in hell will it take to generate popular awareness and demand for political action to stop the abominations we are perpetrating against the life support system of our planet? Where is the tipping point where people say “Alright! Enough.” Shouldn’t marine mammals dieing on our most popular beaches be a wake up call? How about air contaminated by gasses put out by algae in the Gulf of Mexico forcing residents and tourists to wear surgical masks off some of Florida’s most beautiful beaches? (See blog of August 9 - 10) That’s not enough to move the political powers that be? It should be enough. But agricultural political clout is strong and measure to improve the situation would be costly.

Epidemic Threatens Dolphins Around Spain
Spain has asked nations around the Mediterranean to help monitor an infection that may become an epidemic threatening dolphins. There was a similar epidemic during the 1990s.

Morbillivirus, a potentially fatal infection, was found in dead striped dolphins -- a protected species -- washed up on beaches in Spain. This same virus causes measles in its human form.

Why Morbillivirus, which is commonly found in the environment, is suddenly killing these dolphins is under investigation.

The warning signs are everywhere.

1 comment:

Hugo Costa said...

I guys,

Check the dolphins and whales page at
a comprehensive catalogue of marine species to sea lovers.