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Sea Lion Rescued at Foot of Albany Hill

A young sea lion, made sick and disoriented by ingesting the toxin produced by "red tide" algae, began swimming up Cerrito Creek and was rescued at the foot of Albany Hill by the Marine Mammal Center.

Sea lions. Photo Credit: Jamie King, Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Sea lions. Photo Credit: Jamie King, Alaska Department of Fish and Game
It's easy to find sea lions at San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, but Albany Hill?

A disoriented sea lion began to swim up Cerrito Creek on Dec. 21 and was rescued by the Marine Mammal Center between Albany Hill and the Pacific East Mall, according the January newsletter from Friends of Five Creeks

"The young male sea lion ... was sick from domoic acid," the newsletter said. "This deadly toxin is produced by so-called 'red tide' algae, and accumulates in shellfish and other prey that birds and mammals eat. Blooms of these toxic algae seem to be becoming more common in San Francisco Bay."

Friends of Five Creeks, whose work is concentrated in Berkeley, Albany and El Cerrito, said the increase in the "red tide" may seem surprising in view of the water quality improvement of the Bay.

"The Bay is becoming clearer," the organization said. "Our cities discharge massive amounts of nutrients to the Bay in treated sewage. But a muddy bay kept sunlight from stimulating growth. Today, though, dams trap mountain erosion that formerly washed downstream. 

"Mud washed down by hydraulic mining over a century ago is dwindling. The Bay's hardened shorelines can’t erode. And recent lack of rain and storms means little new erosion or disturbance."

Cerrito Creek forms the boundary between Albany and El Cerrito and also between Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

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