Press Democrat (Sonoma County), Jun 7, 2015 (emphasis added): Fur seal strandings on California coast raise alarm… In what’s already a grim year along California’s shores for marine wildlife, concern is growing about rare fur seals that are turning up, weak and emaciated… [They're] rarely seen anywhere close to land… About 50 or 60 strandings have been reported so far, with exact numbers unavailable… crews have scrambled to deal with the new crisis… Guadalupe fur seals… are listed as threatened on the federal Endangered Species List… the impact of large-scale losses could be significant, said Moe Flannery [Calif. Academy of Sciences]… The stranding surge comes amid a scramble to address a variety of issues among marine mammals… they recovered 33 dead animals in April and May alone… The most Guadalupe fur seals the [Marine Mammal Center] hospital has seen in a given year is four, though usually it’s two or fewer… currently [it] has 14 Guadalupe fur seals and has lost 11 since mid-February…
Justin Viezbicke, NOAA: “We’re kind of all hands on deck for the stranding community right now.”
Shawn Johnson, Marine Mammal Center director: “These little guys are coming in at, basically, birth weight… They’re extremely emaciated… This is the first time this has ever happened for us, so it’s a surprise… and it’s something to be concerned about for the fur seal pups, but also for what’s going to happen next.”
- May 21: Dead Guadalupe fur seal pup #29, since April 4th. Unprecedented in my 21 years of working with marine mammals
- May 11: The #guadalupefurseal die-off has kicked in to high gear with #10 in the last week. This is a big hit for these guys
- May 7: Collected two more Guadalupe fur seals today as the die-off continues
NOAA (pdf), Jun 1, 2015: Q: Have other marine mammals been affected by this stranding event? A: Yes, there has been an increase in Guadalupe fur seal strandings.
NBC Bay Area, May 27, 2015: Scientists are concerned about the impact of the die-off on the endangered Guadalupe fur seal.
Tenaya Norris, Marine Mammal Center, 2014-2015 Pacific Anomalies Science and Technology Workshop, May 6, 2015 (at 3:02:30):
- “Usually we don’t see very many of these [Guadalupe fur seals], 0-5 every year since our records began in 1975. This year we’ve had, I think it’s now 16 of these guys… This is a dramatic increase from one year to the next, and from a pretty flat line.”
- Slide: Record number of Guadalupe fur seal strandings in 2015 — Expected to do slightly better with warm waters – Really bad out there
According to Norris’ graphic on Guadalupe fur seal strandings, only 62 have been documented in the 30 years since record keeping began. The Press Democrat reports “50 or 60 strandings… with exact numbers unavailable” for the first 5 months of 2015.
Published: June 10th, 2015 at 10:24 pm ET
- AP: “Alarming signs of oceanic distress” on West Coast — Record number of stranded seal pups, nearly 2,000% of normal levels — “Bags of skin and bones” — “In our 40 year history we’ve never seen this many animals” (VIDEO) November 24, 2015
- Time: Bizarre die-off along West Coast “an animal emergency” — Reuters: Record number of deaths declared Unusual Mortality Event by gov’t — Babies being found severely emaciated, sickened by parasites — Experts: “A big warning sign… this is just the tip of the iceberg” (VIDEO) October 5, 2015
- TV: “Worst wildlife die-off ever recorded” anywhere on Earth underway on West Coast — Expert: “And we’re not just talking marine die-offs… yeah, it’s a really big deal” — “There are many more species that are getting sick” — “Facing possibility of extinction” — Scientist: “Is it some sort of a toxin that’s there?” (VIDEO) January 22, 2016
- Sickened animals “unlike anything doctors have ever seen” on West Coast — “They’re eating themselves from the inside” — Cancers… liver, pancreas, intestines shut down… infested with parasites and immune to antibiotics — Unprecedented catastrophe to cause loss of 200,000 sea lions (VIDEO) January 7, 2016
- Guardian: Pacific Ocean “turning into a desert” off California — Experts: Entire generation of baby sea lions is dying; It’s incredible, it’s so unusual and there’s no good explanation for it; Expect same thing to happen again next year — Carts filled with emaciated dead bodies (PHOTOS) May 17, 2015