Domoic acid

July 13, 2009
Image of Domoic acid 3D Image of Domoic acid

Domoic acid is a neurotoxin produced by marine algae. A recent study found that domoic acid can spread farther and is more persistent than previously thought. The effects of domoic acid have repercussions up the food chain; shellfish poisoning can result in die-offs of mammals such as sea lions and whales. It can also cause digestion and memory problems in humans who consume large amounts of seafood.

Update: November 20, 2015

This fall (2015), the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of the United States is so contaminated with domoic acid that officials postponed the Dungeness crab harvesting season. The unusually high algae bloom is attributed to warmer temperatures caused by the El NiƱo climate condition.

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