This is a very short article about the mass sea lion pup strandings occurring in California. An unprecedented 948 sea lion pups have been found on the California shores since March 24th (and this article was published four days ago!) According to NOAA biologists, “more fledgling sea lions have beached themselves along the central and southern California coast in 2013 so far than in the previous five years combined.” The pups are usually found motherless, dehydrated, and malnourished. Although coastal rescue facilities are trying to handle the monumental load of pups, some pups are being sent all the way to North Carolina for treatment. The cause of this massive wave of suffering sea lions remains to be determined, but some biologists believe it’s because of the mother sea lions being unable to find food. Mother sea lions may be having to travel farther in search of food, thereby also increasing their risk of becoming a meal themselves.
Obviously, this is some really shocking news, especially since nobody knows what is causing the strandings. Usually in mass stranding situations, I feel like environmental biologists are able to narrow down the cause somewhat (i.e. extreme cold stuns, changes in the food chain). Not that those causes are “better” per se, but it’s disturbing when something is seriously wrong and nobody knows why. I don’t have much to add to the article. I just hope the flood of sea lion pups stops soon and most of them are able to make it back to the ocean safely.
Extra: Although the title of the article reads “seal,” the article is actually about sea lions. Here is a video that explains the difference between seals and sea lions.