California is blessed with a bountiful coastline, however currently the California Sea lions are Dying.  The rich waters of the Pacific Ocean change with the seasons and are an inseparable part of the unique environment.  The Davidson current (concurrent coastal stream during winter) and El Nino conditions affect the climate and residents of California, especially the marine mammals whom we share this coastline with.  Whales that travel south to Baja in winter for birthing and north to Alaska for feeding frequent the horizon, dolphins that surf, frolic and feed, brown pelicans in formation, and the puppies of the ocean, the playful California sea lions are all an active and entertaining part of the populace of California.

California Sea Lions Pups – What is Wrong?

It seems like every day we hear about another California sea lion pup showing up on the roadside, in someone’s backyard, or in some other unnatural location. It seems like that, because it’s true, 3 times more than the normal rate of sea lion pups have required rescue by the Sea World Animal Rescue team in San Diego. Since January 1, 2013 up to March 24th  there have been 214 sea lion rescues in a total of 83 days, more than just one pup every day this year. In Los Angeles in the same period there have been 395 cases and a total of over 1,000 stranded sea lion pups encompassing all of Southern California.  The photo below of California Sea Lions resting on a channel marker is a common sight in San Diego Bay.

California Sea Lions on Channel Marker

The consistency and sheer numbers of California sea lions that have required rescuing since January 2013 are alarming not only to the public, NOAA has declared an official Unusual Mortality Event (UME) in specifically Southern California regions. Individual cases of sea lion “strandings”, pups found abandoned by their mothers and malnourished, have required diligence by the public to report incidents and extra work for Sea World who “never says no to any animal” in need of assistance. Stranded Animal Coordinator for Sea World, Jody Westberg pointed out that “we are all part of the Sea World Rescue Team”, and with the help of the public, by reporting a found sea lion, giving publicity to the issue, and pleading for answers, we were able to gain the attention of NOAA in order to prompt a federal investigation into  the possible cause.

Nuclear radiation from the Fukushima Power plant explosion have been eliminated and now the attention has been drawn toward possible depletion of the food supply, which consists mainly of squid, herring, anchovies and clams. Taking a look at, the annual landing total in Point Loma, for example, do not indicate a drastic decrease in fish for 2013 so far. Concerned residents, nature and animal lovers, Sea World and NOAA have all joined together in search of a possible cause, hopefully to be determined before SeaWorld needs to expand their rehabilitation facilities.

Animal lover or not, it’s impossible to not melt when you see those devoted helpless puppy dog eyes, or find yourself giggling at any age from their silly barks. The California sea lion is a marine mammal that we closely share our environment with, gracefully gliding in our waterways and grateful for lounging in the security of our harbors and marinas and the space we respect as theirs.

Helping the California Sea Lions – What can be done?

As we wait for test results from NOAA as to the cause of this UME affecting the California sea lion pups, it is important to continue vigilance by the public, reporting cases and keeping the communication going about experiences thoughts and possible causes. Possible causes that have been discussed include waterway traffic, other radiation or toxins not nuclear, sonar related activity by the military, and the large garbage mass floating from the tsunami in the Pacific Ocean.

If you are interested in seeing these magnificant creatures in their natural environment give a a call and come out on one of our sightseeing adventures.  Please forward this article to others who would be interested.

If you have an experience or thought to share – please comment.

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Life is life’s greatest gift. Guard the life of another creature as you would your own because it is your own. On life’s scale of values, the smallest is no less precious to the creature who owns it than the largest. (Lloyd Biggle Jr.- April-1923 – September – 2002)


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