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Oregon Coast Warnings: Crabbing Closure, Sick Sea Lions May Affect Dogs

Published 11/01/2017 at 5:17 PM PDT - Updated 11/02/2017 at 5:27 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Oregon Coast Warnings: Crabbing Closure, Sea Lion Illness

(Oregon Coast) – Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has some bad news about crabbing on the southern Oregon coast and about sea lions with diseases on the northern half of the shoreline. The crabbing ban has been extended for the southernmost third of the state's waters, while sick sea lions are posing a health risk to pets in other areas. (Above: healthy sea lions lounging near Florence).

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Along the Oregon coast and the California coast, wildlife officials are running into an alarming number of stranded sea lions stricken with leptospirosis, a bacteria that can also sicken dogs, livestock, people and other creatures. It's caused ODFW to issue a warning about staying clear of sea lions you see on the beach.

Jim Rice, an OSU Marine Mammal Institute researcher who works at the OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, said the agency has been receiving multiple calls every day for the last few months, but most of the cases have been on the northern half of the coast, in and around areas like Yachats, Lincoln City, Pacific City, Rockaway Beach, Seaside and Cannon Beach.

There is a minor risk to humans, but dogs are much more at risk of becoming infected. Those walking with dogs should keep them on a leash: even coming into contact with sand that has fecal matter or urine from the sea lion can cause transmission to the pet.

While leptospirosis occurs worldwide, outbreaks occur only sporadically in marine mammals, with the last Oregon outbreak seen in 2010. The disease can spread when an animal comes into contact with urine or other bodily fluids of an infected animal and can lead to kidney failure, fever, weakness, muscle pain, and other symptoms. In Oregon, young male sea lions are typically affected and usually show signs of dehydration, depression and reluctance to use their hind flippers.

On the southern Oregon coast, ODFW and the Oregon Department of Agriculture have extended the closure of recreational and commercial crabbing due to elevated levels of domoic acid. Now closed is the stretch from the north jetty of Coos Bay, including the Coos Bay estuary, to the California border. This closure includes all crab harvested in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties. The recreational crabbing season in the ocean was closed along the entire Oregon coast on October 15.

Crab harvesting from the north jetty of Coos Bay to the Columbia River remains open in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties.

Despite the closure, crab and shellfish products sold in retail markets and restaurants remain safe for consumers.

For more information, call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448-2474 or visit the ODA shellfish closures web page. --- Where to stay in these areas - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours

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