A worrisome story.
The Marine Mammal Center in Marin County is on the front lines of a statewide response to a surge in sea lion pups turning up on California beaches emaciated and sometimes sick, at a time they still should be in the company of their mothers, nursing and learning to forage.
Already this year, the rehabilitation center in the Marin Headlands has received at least 108 California sea lions in need of care — mostly pups, but some juveniles and adults, as well, staff veterinarian Cara Field said Tuesday.
Even more were in line to arrive from triage centers farther south Wednesday, facility personnel said.
Sea mammal rescue centers are struggling with their charge. In California, it’s the third year in a row that an unusual number of sick young sea lions have been rescued from beaches. They are malnourished and may have pneumonia and secondary infections due to being so weak. It’s not clear why they are in this condition. Are the food stocks low for the mothers? Is the population too large to be sustained? It’s suspected that food resources could be low due to changes in the distribution locations of small fish. In 2013, no common pathogen was found. The birth rate was also lower.
It does not look to be a disease but the consideration that fish stock may be low is worrisome.