U.S. Government Sounds Alarm About High Number of Sea Lion Strandings
NMMF Scientist Leads Group Assessing Crisis
SAN DIEGO -- The National Marine Mammal Foundation announced today that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has taken the extraordinary step of declaring an Unusual Mortality Event for California Sea Lions since the beginning of the year. Since the beginning in January 2013, dramatically-elevated strandings of California sea lion pups have been observed in Southern California (Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties). NOAA reported that strandings are increasing in San Diego County.
National Marine Mammal Foundation researcher Dr. Stephanie Venn-Watson is the Chair of the Working Group for Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events. "We're working quickly to respond to this crisis. The NMMF's focus is to help save the lives of these malnourished sea lions and at the same time help our colleagues determine what's causing this alarming increase in stranded pups," said Dr. Venn-Watson.
The increase of sea lion strandings continues and has intensified over the last few weeks. Live sea lion strandings are nearly three times higher than the historical average. NMMF staff have joined forces with the Marine Mammal Care Center to respond to the crisis and for the past several weeks have been providing assistance to assess and rehabilitate the young sea lions. NMMF staff are traveling north from San Diego daily to provide food preparation, veterinary exams and treatment.
"Unfortunately, we expected NOAA's announcement and we hope it brings even more attention to this critical situation. Peak stranding season hasn't even arrived yet and it appears the number of pups that will show up on San Diego's beaches will go up even more in the next two months," said NMMF Executive Director Dr. Cynthia Smith.
Since the first of the year, more than 700 California sea lion pups have beached themselves along the coast. In fact, more sea lions have stranded in the past 10 weeks than are typically seen in an entire year. The pups are too weak and thin to forage for food and without human care, they won't survive.
For ongoing updates and more information from NOAA on the sea lion strandings, you can click here.
To donate to the NMMF, a non-profit organization, and support their efforts to respond to the sea lion strandings please click here.
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