Sea lion pups suffering through bad year in parts of California

A worrisome story.

Mystery malady affecting sea lion pups strains Sausalito | The Press Democrat.

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.

  2 comments for “Sea lion pups suffering through bad year in parts of California

  1. Kurt
    February 4, 2015 at 11:40 AM

    Just my educated guess: The reason seas off the coast of California are so productive is that the water is cold and nutrient rich. If the seas start to warm here, they lose some of their productivity. The fish move with the plankton but the mammals and other marine animals that birth on land tend to stay in their ancestral homes as it’s not as easy to just move. If climate change is warming the water here, and the fish move, then the sea lions might be in trouble until they start to move. I know this last fall, waters here were the warmest they had been on record.

  2. Blargh
    February 4, 2015 at 12:38 PM

    I assume one of the pathogens they looked for was PDV?

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