MOSS LANDING, Calif. (AP) — California marine scientists are collecting samples from sea mammals around the state to in an effort to create a map of toxic hot spots.
The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/1964yg1 ) that Marine Mammal Center researchers plan to use 10 years of data collected from the stranded sea lions, seals and whales its saved to create a "disease map" of the coastal environment.
Stephanie Hughes, a marine scientist who studies disease in seals, says the creatures are "samplers for the environment."
Seals and other marine mammals live near humans and eat a lot of the same seafood. They store contaminants from the food in their blubber.
Blubber samples show different contaminants depending on the area -- agriculture pesticides in Monterey Bay or flame retardants in San Francisco Bay.
Information from: Santa Cruz Sentinel, http://www.santacruzsentinel.com