Hundreds more starving sea lions continue to wash up on West Coast

Hundreds more starving sea lions continue to wash up on West Coast

According to Shawn Johnson, the director of veterinary science at Sausalito's Marine Mammal Center, for the third year out of five, thousands of sea lion pups have beached themselves in an effort to survive. The sea lions are too young to be without their mothers and, as a result, are not able to fend for themselves in the water. After trying desperately to find food, the sea lions came ashore -- nothing but skin and bones and a mass of internal parasites, and too weak to go on any longer.

The pups are coming from their breeding grounds at the Channel Islands. The primary reason for the breeding grounds' location is due to the seasonal swells of prey sardines, anchovies and more that the Pacific Ocean has historically brought to the shores of the islands. As the numbers of fish drop, the mothers of these sea lion pups must leave them to fend for themselves for longer periods of time as they seek to forage for food.

Number of rescues high for the year

The sea lions from the Channel Islands, a long chain of eight islands off the coast of Southern California, have resulted in over 1,100 rescues in February 2015 -- an increase of more than five times the normal number. The pups are desperately trying to get out of the ocean and are being found on homeowners' decks, inside flower pots, under fishing piers, on rocky cliffs, along inlets and in other unusual spots.

Changes in feeding structure

Though experts cannot say for certain, many believe that warmer-than-normal waters are pushing the fish and other prey that the sea lions rely on away from their previous coastal island routes. As a result, the females must leave the islands where they come to breed and birth their babies before weaning them for a life foraging on their own for longer periods of time so they can find food. The pups are too young to have the necessary experience to know how to feed themselves.

Stranded sea lion pups become prey themselves

As the sea lion pups strand themselves on shores from San Diego to San Francisco, their encounters with humans continue to increase, often to the detriment of the pups. Aggressive dogs sometimes target the animals, cornering them and pushing them to seek shelter in the yards of multimillion-dollar homes along the shores. Sometimes, people take pictures of their children sitting atop the starving animals. In other instances, humans try to help the pups by feeding them tuna, spraying them with water or trying to drag the weakened animals back into the water.

Environmental change is occurring too quickly

According to Sharon Melin, a National Marine Fisheries Service wildlife biologist, the pups weigh about 44 percent less than their ideal weight. Though the sea lion population numbers at about 300,000 right now -- a number that experts agree is healthy -- scientists do expect the number to dwindle soon. As of right now, the species is not adapting fast enough to allow its young to thrive.

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com
http://www.malibusurfsidenews.com
http://www.oregonlive.com
http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov [PDF]

Written by Mayimina Mutijiang (Natural News)

Comments

JM 5 months ago

Fukushima? Really? Investigate the effects radiation has on animal populations in the Chernobyl area before you start throwing about silly theories. Yes radiation can reduce health or kill in large enough doses, but for the most parts, animals just get on with it.

Riggy 1 year ago

How about they try connecting the mass animal die off's with the "actual cause" and stop blaming stuff like global warming and the sunray's

How about Fukushima meltdown & subsequent gravity fed flow of nuke waste "that went undetected for years" into the pacific ocean could possible be cause of mass marine life & animal die off.
As well as is causing the seal starvation due to plankton die off which in turn caused sardine , herring , food to starve and dye off as well ?

How about that one ..No it must be those deadly sunrays again huh? !!! WAKE UP MAN < you might want to have a geiger meter next time you order some crab legs !

Ron 2 years ago


I moved from central coast CAlifornia 2.5 years ago. I recently returned to visit and one of the 1st things I noticed was the lack of animal life along the coast between MOnterey and Santa Cruz. My question is why don't we hear the animal activist groups screaming for an investigation into the connection Fukishima has into this? It is obvious to anyone who has half a brain to what the cause is. People really need to wake up and realize the scope of the Fukushima event.

Bjørnar Nicolaisen (@Ron) 2 years ago

We should never underestimate the importance of noticing changes in the nature. I can imagine there's a lot of concern about what Fukushima has done to the Pacific.

But there is a huge race for the last oil going on around the world and authoroties are going crazy seeking quick solutions while our economic system is braking down.

My question is: Have there been/are there any seismic socalled "surveys" close to the areas where the dolphins stranded?

Why...?

Because seismic blastings are the worst disasters to all kinds of life connected to the Oceans. The pressure Waves created by the airguns towed behind seismic vessels scare all creatures able to get away. The many species not able to get away from the pressure dies.

Seismic blastings also close down sustainable fisheries because it's impossible to catch fish when the fish is being scared away from the fishing banks by air guns.

Eric 2 years ago

Why are people scratching their heads for the reason things are sick and dieing in the pacific ocean when it is obvious ....FUKUSHIMA ..... It is as if we just close our eyes and not speak about it this will all disappear. Well its not and this will be mans downfall.Suicide by technology,corruption, and greed. Not thinking about consequences being able to turn on a light, or glow in the dark.....

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