Information sent today from Promed-Mail indicates that domoic acid is indeed implicated in the sea-lion die-off in California. Domoic acid is a neurotoxin produced by certain algal blooms that can bioaccumulate as it moves up trophic chains. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a terrific resource page with extensive references on domoic acid. The report on the die-off comes from Southern California via the Ventura County Star, but it seems likely that it is related to the Central California die-off I wrote about last week. Also implicated -- as I suggested last week -- is a shortage in fish resulting from the El Niño warmed Pacific waters.
The other day I woke up and the house smelled intensely of wood smoke. When I went outside, the smell was almost overwhelming. A low haze hung over the area and my eyes and throat burned after running. The last time this happened was during the Summit Fire in Santa Cruz this May.
It is, of course, well known that over a thousand wildfires were sparked throughout Northern California by dry lightning storms last week. What I couldn't understand about the past week is that there are no nearby fires, yet the smoky haze has been far worse over the past week than it was at the height of the Summit Fire. So where is all the smoke coming from? Looking at the MODIS site, I found an answer. This is the picture of the day from 29 June and it is pretty stunning. The smoke from the Napa, Shasta, and Mendocino County fires was just funneling down through the the San Francisco Bay Area. Yikes.
Things have been a bit better over the last couple days but it is still disturbingly overcast and hazy. I fear it is going to be a very long summer...