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Red tide off coast of Orange County and South Bay has wildlife experts concerned

CBS Los Angeles 4/28/2022

A red tide off the coast of Orange County and the South Bay was raising concerns among wildlife experts, as the murky waters, caused by blooming algae that pose a risk for seabirds.

Drone video captured a pod of dolphins playing and swimming without a care in the reddish brown water. 

"I call it chocolate water," said Eric Martin. 

Dolphins swimming in the reddish-brown, murky red tide waters. Eric Martin © Provided by CBS Los Angeles Dolphins swimming in the reddish-brown, murky red tide waters. Eric Martin

Martin is the head aquarist at the Roundhouse Aquarium in Manhattan Beach. He took the video of the dolphins, along with a stunning photo of a gray whale. That's when he noticed the red tide. 

It's been spotted up and down the coast, from Santa Monica Bay to, most recently, Huntington Beach, and although it's not believed to be harmful to most sea life, some wildlife experts are concerned.  

"There are red tides that happen all the time. This particular one that bloomed this time, the A-Sanguinea, and it is a harmful aloe bloom," said Debbie McGuire, executive director of the Wetland and Wildlife Center. 

She said this type of red tide could harm many of our local sea birds, like the brown pelican or western gulls. 

While CBSLA was at the center, doctors got their first possible casualty from harmful red tide, a northern fulmar. 

"It came in beached two days ago, wet and sandy, not feelin well. The rescuers took it home to try to help it and now its in critical condition," McGuire said. 

She was urging people to first bring in any distressed wildlife to rescue centers and not take them home because she said this specific type of algae can take away a bird's waterproof ability and cause hypothermia. 

"So, instead of having a nice little wet suit that keeps them dry, that goes away."

This particular red tide can also be harmful to dogs if its ingested and can cause skin irritation for humans. 

By the time CBSLA was preparing to leave the center, a bit of good news came in for the injured northern fulmar. 

"We gave him some warm IV fluid, got him stable. Now, he's getting some warm pool therapy time, drinking water. If they can get into care, we can give them a chance," McGuire told CBSLA. 

Experts aren't sure how long the red tide will last. In Newport, though, lifeguards said in the last two days, they have started to see less of that reddish brown red tide in the water. 

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