Californian shores witness mysterious mass stranding of sea lion pups


A worrying large number of dehydrated and emaciated sea lions are washing ashore Central and Southern Californian coastline from Santa Barbara to San Diego. Hundreds of these sick sea lion have been admitted to rescue centers so far and rescue groups are reporting substantial spike in number of these malnourished sea lions since January in comparison to previous years count during same period. Sharon Melin, a wildlife biologist with the National Fisheries Service told Wired,

“We’re in the process of trying to understand what is actually causing this. The stranding centers in Southern California are being inundated with animals. It hasn’t hit the northern centers yet.”

Most of sea lions are identified as pups – about 9 months – and should weigh between 25 and 30 kilograms. Whereas, these pups are about half of that and are not gaining weight, Melin found in her observations. Regional strandings coordinator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Sarah Wilkin noted that, as of March 13th, 517 pups had been admitted to 5 Southern Californian rescue centers, a total higher than some of the entire years and yet, the pace of admissions is still accelerating. Most of these stranded pups were found in areas near Channel Islands – the known breeding haven of sea lions.

Researchers are yet to find out the cause of such influx. They’ve hypothesized that these pups have weaned themselves early and left their colonies. As they’re not strong enough to find food on their own, their quest for survival brings them to shore. Another hypothesis is that disease or an environmental perturbation forced them to leave their homes, although scientists are not sure yet.

“There’s something going on oceanographically that there’s not sufficient food available for the moms to nurse their pups…” said Susan Chivers, a biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Elevation in influx similar to this one was noticed after a strong El Niño event in 1997-1998, except that one was more broadly distributed. El Niño is known for affecting food supply by warming ocean temperatures. Moss Landing Marine Laboratories Trainer, Stefani Skrovan points out lack of food availability and El Nino as probable reason why all the animals are showing up sick and starved. She said,

“El Nino is a very common and very silical pattern where almost all normal weather patterns shift and the prevailing winds die allowing the other winds to come with and actually reverse the ocean weather patterns.”

In case if you spot an animal that may appear stranded, do not try to help it. Instead call one of the Marine Mammal Centers:

San Diego County – (800) 341-7325

Orange County – (949) 494-3050

Los Angeles County – (310) 548-5677

Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties – (805) 687-3255

San Luis Obispo – Mendocino Counties – (415) 289-7325

Humbolodt – Del Norte Counties – (707) 822-8839


Sources: Wired, KION

Featured image: Nicolas de CamaretCC BY 2.0

If you value what we do here, create your ad-free account and support our journalism.


Related articles

Producing content you read on this website takes a lot of time, effort, and hard work. If you value what we do here, select the level of your support and register your account.

Your support makes this project fully self-sustainable and keeps us independent and focused on the content we love to create and share.

All our supporters can browse the website without ads, allowing much faster speeds and a clean interface. Your comments will be instantly approved and you’ll have a direct line of communication with us from within your account dashboard. You can suggest new features and apps and you’ll be able to use them before they go live.

You can choose the level of your support.

Stay kind, vigilant and ready!

$5 /month

  • Ad-free account
  • Instant comments
  • Direct communication
  • New features and apps suggestions
  • Early access to new apps and features

$50 /year

$10 /month

  • Ad-free account
  • Instant comments
  • Direct communication
  • New features and apps suggestions
  • Early access to new apps and features

$100 /year

$25 /month

  • Ad-free account
  • Instant comments
  • Direct communication
  • New features and apps suggestions
  • Early access to new apps and features

$200 /year

You can also support us by sending us a one-off payment using PayPal:


  1. […] The mass stranding of sea lions at Californian shores doesn’t seem stopping anytime soon and condition has deteriorated even more. The stranding(s) spiked in January and have intensified in recent weeks, the numbers have already surpassed total number of an average year. By March 13th, there were 517 pups admitted to marine mammal rehabilitation centers and by April 4, the number has risen to 1100Wired. Authorities still don’t know what is the exact cause of the stranding. NOAA’s marine mammal stranding coordinator for the state of California, Sarah Wilkin said, […]

  2. Question , Why are they dumping a hundred tons of iron in the ocean. . .while they don’t have the ecology sense . . .that there isn’t any sardines to eat the plankton. . .the only fish that makes that plant nonposionous. . .the ‘experiment’ since scientist believe all life is an experiment and it HAAS TO BE USED AGAINST LIFE. . .is a stinking embarresment especially to the ‘lowly sardine’. . I certainly the mad scientist and gods called the president and their money system die off or fall off the edge of the earth. . .and soon.. .WOW they can grow TOXIC algea and I’m personally MAD

  3. Not a chance it could be all of the radiation being dumped into the pacific ocean in Japan. No it couldn’t be that, why would anyone draw a conclusion to the billions of gallons of toxic radiation that has been seeping AND illegally dumped into the marine life’s habitat. This planets humans suck!

Leave a reply