CNN airs troubling images of ill California sea lions — “Like walking skeletons” — Unprecedented crisis, exponentially higher numbers — 700 rescued recently (VIDEO)

Published: March 23rd, 2013 at 10:09 am ET


CNN, March 21, 2013: Why are so many baby sea lions starving? […] This is an unprecedented crisis for the species in this state says the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. […] “So we are seeing exponentially higher numbers” [Keith Matassa, who runs the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach said]. […] When you say off the charts, this is what you’re talking about.

CBS News, March 22, 2013: […] 700 have been picked up over the last three months. […] “They’re very sick,” said Keith Matassa, who runs the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach. His team is nursing 115 sea lions back to health. “A normal sea lion at this age — 8 to 9 months old — should be around 60, 70 pounds,” said Matassa. “We’re seeing them come into our center at 20 to 25 pounds, and really they look like walking skeletons.” […] Scientists worry they’ll find even more starving sea lions in the weeks ahead. April and May are usually peak months for sea lion rescues.

Watch the CBS broadcast here

Published: March 23rd, 2013 at 10:09 am ET


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73 comments to CNN airs troubling images of ill California sea lions — “Like walking skeletons” — Unprecedented crisis, exponentially higher numbers — 700 rescued recently (VIDEO)

  • m a x l i

    Are we next?

  • NO MENTION of Fukushima Fallout being even a possible cause.

    However, the comments on the CBS page clearly show people thinking about it.

    If regular people are saying, "hey, what about FALLOUT!", then why aren't the 'experts' considering it?

    Because, (they will later claim), they are trying to prevent panic.

    Imagine a news report that stated: "Tests Confirm – Sea Lions and other Mammals clearly affected by Fukushima Fallout"

    That would kill the Nuclear Power Industry. So, we are not going to see that headline anytime soon, even if it is true.

    If you don't consider it or test for it, then it must not exist. Well, at least the 'proof' won't exist. That seems to be one of the Nuclear Industry's main philosophies. "No proof, no harm" – What a motto.

    • jec jec

      Soon we will hear "tests confirm" seals and sea lions deaths from fukushima radiation. Wonder when they will "fess" up.

      • Johnny Blade Johnny Blade

        I suspect the indisputable TRUTH is known and the damning "official" evidence is being suppressed by those in charge of the field research teams & lab techs & support staff[?](for now)! But I'm not sure that this far along in the ELE past the time when knowing the truth and ACTING with the level of urgency "might've" helped avert TOTAL disaster since it's also very "early" as far as the timelines usually associated with the delayed effects following contamination before MOST cancers have developed and the undeniable markers of radiation induced illness & death is seen??!! The tragedies befalling the sea life already being seen at levels they can no longer "sweep under the rug" or blame on anything else combined with the impacts on inland creatures including our species is already right in front of the faces of those willing & able to look at the obvious REALITY of what was done to OUR world and everything/everyone in it! I hope my own declining health allows me to be around long enough to see those responsible PAY for what they've done! Obviously "THEY" won't be prosecuting themselves, so it will be up to their victims to hold them accountable, try,convict & sentence as well as enforce the sentencing?!! Things are & will keep getting worse from this point on & maybe much of the disgusting details will also keep making MSM reporting from here on out and the best I may be able to hope for is a "call for JUSTICE" & the TRUTH finally be known to ALL before "THE…

        • Johnny Blade Johnny Blade

          >>END" 🙁 ~**

        • We Not They Finally

          Well understand the rage and the thirst for justice, but the world has been propagandized about nuclear energy since the early 1940's. It's the world's most silent and pervasive killer. But if we can even get through the massive public denial about WHY illness rates have skyrocketed, it would be a lot. In America, there is not even a viable protest movement (in some countries, there is at least SOME.) No one wants to hear anything like, "Yes, we're doomed; and no, no one will pay," but if that turns out to be the reality, it still does not have the right to rob us of inner peace and our dignity as humans.

        • NoPrevarication NoPrevarication

          @Johnny Blade

          "I suspect the indisputable TRUTH is known and the damning "official" evidence is being suppressed by…" I disagree. The truth is being suppressed from the very top (now what color is this?) and you know who I mean. It cannot be any other way else they would have stopped the suppression long ago.


    looking at the tagline beneath the video graphic headline, which reads "Scientists baffled, can't figure out the cause…" REALLY?! If this wasn't so eff'n horrifying, I'd be on the floor laughing at the incredible stupidity of those…who got us here! Have they not woken to the fact, this can no longer be kept from the public? Are they going to hang on to the last vestiges of technical pride with this denial? Maybe they need to do a 'tobacco institute study' to determine the cause? Why not? We've all the time in the world to waste!

    • Anthony Anthony

      I agree, Nature speaks clearly. For us the strength to strive towards is to keep one`s personal sense of sanity and clarity during rampant insanity. The untruths are quite institutionalized in our times. Nothing short of the truth can even hope to help these stricken animals. The antidote depends on the diagnosis. Surely scientists are aware of this fact?


        how could they not know, Anthony. Using words like 'baffled' leaves me…STUNNED! I can't believe they're tip-toeing around the issue that hundreds-of-millions of gallons (tons?) of rad-contaminated effluent were dumped off the coast of Japan after the Fukushima meltdowns. I'm so sick of this culture of carefully worded statements! Why is it left to us – out here – to posit these connections? What's so difficult about coming forward with the obvious connection between rad-contaminated ocean water and this previously unknown decimation of these sea-lion herds?! If I find myself holding up a bleeding hand, while the other's gripping a bloodied hammer, does it take a mystic to figure out what just happened? If these 'learned' scientist are incapable of such simple logic, why then would I believe anything else they'd call my attention too? We're supposed to pray for deliverance when these same 'scientists' point to CO2's subtle impact on the environment, yet they somehow can't see the parallels between rampant die-offs of ocean creatures and rad-contamination of their environment?! Do they really think the average person is incapable of finding the truth for themselves?

        • We Not They Finally

          No, the average person isn't incapable of finding out the truth for themselves, but it's been made outlandishly difficult. Most people nowadays think that carbon dioxide (even though less oxygen in the air is bad) is the big culprit, and they hardly even heard of plutonium and the hundreds of other deadly radionuclides, which are all WAY WAY WAY WORSE than CO2. And OF COURSE scientists (of all people) should know better, but the media is controlled and the science community itself heavily corrupted. But I'm probably just preaching to the choir here…

      • NoPrevarication NoPrevarication


        "The untruths are quite institutionalized in our times." Cheer up, Anthony. Maybe "they" will meet the same fate??? Let's hope so, with a vengeance. It would only seem fair. What you wreak on others, you will wreak on yourselves.

  • Replacant Replacant

    So what ever happened to this story?

    I guess we all get to collectively shrug our shoulders and say "awe shucks dont know what could do this", during a massive release of radiation. With the half life of 30 years seems like the Cesium will be with us for a century and the sea lions are our "canaries in a coal mine". When the canary dies dont you leave the mine? Do we start evacuating the coasts and Hawaii now?

  • weeman

    If the story is right they state that they are nursing pups back to health, in my opinion if true it is not radiation poisoning, as you would be unable to return to health?
    Not to say that there food source has not been effected or something in the food chain has been decimated and we are seeing a domino effect?
    The radiation must have some effect on the ocean biosphere no doubt.

    • jec jec

      Survival rate is what for the sick pups? Not 100%. And what about the ones they DONT find..since MOST will die and never be seen. If this number is being found, add a lot of zeros to the total numbers of sick animals..

  • many moons

    What's most disturbing about this story is the lack of connection between the distruction of the enviroment, the mass deaths of the sea creatures and human life. The world is one place, the sea lions are a reflection of us, our future and our willingness to profit and destroy from what we can not reconstruct.

    • Anthony Anthony

      You (we) can see already how this leads to an undoing. It is the wrong path in life to take if one seeks a great life. A piece of me feels their sufferance. I think you are similar.

      • Well put. In a certain sense, we are the seals. They are life, we are life. All life is connected and those with any vestige of intelligence left know it.

        What is happening in Belarus and Fallujah, Fukushima and in the ocean is a reflection of us. It is us.

        The preciousness of life is being undermined and put in the garbage bin. I think we can reverse it if we all put our heads together.

        If we don't, we get Cyprus-ed, Fukey-ed and USS Ronald Reagan-ed into the ground.

        We must fight, and fight hard.

        • We Not They Finally

          "Fighting" and people power is always good. But baseline has to be an educated public, however that happens. And regrettably, this is "a different fight." Great ills of the world have been corrected before by people fighting. But this is permanent, escalating, multi-generational damage. What kind of breakthrough gets us past THIS?

  • patb2009

    could someone do a whole body count on these sea lions?

    if they show high isotope counts, then the radiation is screwing up their systems.

    if they aren't, then you need to look at fish surveys. maybe the radiation is supressing
    a target species for them.

    it could also be chemical waste from Chiba when all that burned.

  • Perhaps they aren't testing the organs, which is where cesium, iodine and other radioactive isotopes bio-accumulate.

    The Pacific marine food chain has been contaminated, all the way from the bottom to near the top.

    Consider that phytoplankton has been found to bio-accumulate tritium and all plankton bio-accumulate iodine.

    I don't know if cesium bio-accumulates in plankton but I bet it does since it is a potassium analog.

    So, bio-magnification is occurring up the Pacific food chain, with seals and sea lions pretty high up in the chain.

    These animals will have higher concentrations of radioisotopes in organs.

    Scientists may unknowingly (because of their ignorance) or deliberately (because of their evilness) bias their analysis by testing only tissues less likely to concentrate radio-isotopes.

    Wake up World!

    • We Not They Finally

      YES. High profile people need to explain bio-accumulation and and bio-magnification up the food chain, for a start. The seals would be a good starting point for tracing out what they eat, and where it is in the food chain and what that means for the food chain as a whole. And if they thoroughly test and figure out what kills ONE sea lion, it will give a key to them all. But independent scientists will have to do it, not institutional spokespeople.

    • They know what the cause is:

      (mentioned here)

      Ionising radiation and skin lesions
      Dr. I. Boesman
      Occupational Health

      Radiation induced skin lesions
      Radiation dermatitis
      Cutaneous radiation syndrome

      • NoPrevarication NoPrevarication


        My bad. Firefox, Adobe or Nitro Software will not permit me to see this file either…it does not exist; even according to Google.

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Effects of nuclear meltdown, no doubt.

  • Mack Mack

    Following Fukushima, there was a 30% one-year drop in sardines in the ocean.

    Sardines is one of the major food sources for these seals.

    • We Not They Finally

      Huge clue! Obviously, they need to test the sardine population as well. But they really need to include nuclear engineers in this, not just veterinarians.

      • many moons

        They need to test a lot of things…and they need to give honest facts about their findings. Often the goverment shuts down a study when the data is about to show an unwanted outcome. The study becomes inconclusive, more data needs to be examined and it's shelved.
        I can't imagine that there is no conclusive data about the mysterious deaths of pacific sea creatures….just like the mysterious black powder…what could it be…speculation…no conclusive data….WHY NOT?????

      • Biologists, epidemiologists as well.

  • bonsairebellion bonsairebellion

    The Pacific Marine Mammal Center is just down the street from me. I'd be glad to go and ask if they have tested for or will test for radiation. What specifically should I be asking/suggesting them to test for? Any ideas?

    • hbjon hbjon

      Chemical pneumonia in the lungs would suggest breathing harmful gases that travel along oceans surface. Digestive system disorder would lead to ingesting contaminated food, of course. I am leaning towards chronic asthma and chemical pneumonia. How can it not be from the gaseous releases?

      • Mad Scientists Mad Scientists

        If I were a marine biologist, I would want to know if the sea lions were exposed to Strontium or Cesium from Japan's nuclear meltdowns.

        • bonsairebellion bonsairebellion

          Yes, this is the direction I'm leaning as well. Looks like there are several tests that can be done to test for Cesium. Since we (the sea lions and I ) are about 15 miles north of San Onofre NPP I'm also curious as to wether there is a marker to look for to differentiate between the two (possible) sources.

    • m a x l i

      Good idea, bonsairebellion! Please, go there and try to have a long talk with them! But before you make your own suggestions what the possible reason could be, I would suggest you hold yourself back for a while and carefully listen to what they think, what possibly could have caused the masses of sick animals, and you pay attention whether they mention the dirty F-word by themselves at all. Besides the contamination unleashed by Fukushima we are dealing with more problems like widespread denial, ignorance, distorted paid science… It would be very interesting to hear from you again.

    • We Not They Finally

      And ask them if they have or could test the SARDINE population, a food source for seals that has been greatly reduced by Fukushima apparently.


    "A Chronic radiation keratosis is a precancerous keratotic skin lesion that may arise on the skin many years after exposure to ionizing radiation.[17]:729 Various malignancies may develop, most frequency basal-cell carcinoma followed by squamous-cell carcinoma.[15][18][19]

    Elevated risk is confined to the site of radiation exposure.[20] Several studies have also suggested the possibility of a causal relationship between melanoma and ionizing radiation exposure.[21]

    The degree of carcinogenic risk arising from low levels of exposure is more contentious, but the available evidence points to an increased risk that is approximately proportional to the dose received.[22] Radiologists and radiologic technologists are among the earliest occupational groups exposed to radiation. It was the observation of the earliest radiologists that led to the recognition of radiation-induced skin cancer—the first solid cancer linked to radiation—in 1902.[23] While the incidence of skin cancer secondary to medical ionizing radiation was higher in the past, there is also some evidence that risks of certain cancers, notably skin cancer, may be increased among more recent medical radiation workers, and this may be related to specific or changing radiologic practices.[23] Available evidence indicates that the excess risk of skin cancer lasts for 45 years or more following irradiation.[24]


    Cutaneous Radiation Injury (CRI)

    Injury to the skin and underlying tissues from acute exposure to a large external dose of radiation is referred to as cutaneous radiation injury (CRI). Acute radiation syndrome (ARS) 1 will usually be accompanied by some skin damage; however, CRI can occur without symptoms of ARS. This is especially true with acute exposures to beta radiation or low-energy x-rays, because beta radiation and low-energy x-rays are less penetrating and less likely to damage internal organs than gamma radiation is. CRI can occur with radiation doses as low as 2 Gray (Gy) or 200 rads 2 and the severity of CRI symptoms will increase with increasing doses. Most cases of CRI have occurred when people inadvertently came in contact with unsecured radiation sources from food irradiators, radiotherapy equipment, or well depth gauges. In addition, cases of CRI have occurred in people who were overexposed to x-radiation from fluoroscopy units.

    Early signs and symptoms of CRI are itching, tingling, or a transient erythema or edema without a history of exposure to heat or caustic chemicals. Exposure to radiation can damage the basal cell layer of the skin and result in inflammation, erythema, and dry or moist desquamation. In addition, radiation damage to hair follicles can cause epilation.


      "In most cases, healing occurs by regenerative means; however, large radiation doses to the skin can cause permanent hair loss, damaged sebaceous and sweat glands, atrophy, fibrosis, decreased or increased skin pigmentation, and ulceration or necrosis of the exposed tissue.

      With CRI, it is important to keep the following things in mind:

      The visible skin effects depend on the magnitude of the dose as well as the depth of penetration of the radiation.

      Unlike the skin lesions caused by chemical or thermal damage, the lesions caused by radiation exposures do not appear for hours to days following exposure, and burns and other skin effects tend to appear in cycles.

      The key treatment issues with CRI are infection and pain management. "

  • 2011-12 Outbreak of Skin Lesions in Seals, Unusual Mortality Event (UME):
    Public Health Guidance for Contact with Marine Mammals
    Updated 1/31/13

    "In 2011, over 200 ice seals were reported with the Unusual Mortality Event (UME) symptoms. Affected animals were primarily ringed seals, but the condition was also noted in spotted, bearded and one ribbon seal. Walrus were also included in the UME investigation due to the appearance of skin lesions. Reports were received from northern Alaska, Canada (NWT), Russia (Chukotka), and Japan with the majority of cases from around the North Slope and Bering Strait regions. In 2012, fewer cases were reported.

    Scientists from several different agencies have continued to investigate this UME to determine the cause(s) for the lesions and whether or not they pose any risk to humans who come in contact with the seals.

    To date, no single infectious pathogen has been linked to the lesions. Testing continues to discover whether disruptions in the endocrine system or changes in nutrition, among other factors, may contribute to the development of lesions."


      "To date, no single infectious pathogen has been linked to the lesions".

      Any guesses NOAA? You know, scientific method? Form a hypothesis?

      Scientific Method

      Four essential elements of the scientific method are iterations, recursions, interleavings, or orderings of the following:

      Characterizations (observations, definitions, and measurements of the subject of inquiry)

      Hypotheses (theoretical, hypothetical explanations of observations and measurements of the subject)

      Predictions (reasoning including logical deduction from the hypothesis or theory)

      Experiments (tests of all of the above)

      • hbjon hbjon

        We know how to get to the truth. It flies from the particulars to the most general axioms and proceeds to judgement. So far, industry and MSM have only tried obfuscation.

  • Starheart Starheart



    • many moons

      Starting in the past 6 months I have never been to so many funerals or heard of so many birth defects in my family and those around us.

      • alasanon

        I hear you there. I seem OK, but I don't like watching others in peril–man or beast!!… 🙁 Can you imagine the private talk in Japan?? …

  • alasanon

    Poor babies!! And animals don't know better to move! (nor do the Japanese & their babies?!!) It figures that warm-blooded mammals are getting the worst of it out there. 🙁 I've read that reptiles, for example, can take a lot more than we ever could… I hope these little pups can be fully rehabilitated and sheltered. (and prayers for all the children who are getting high dosages, too!! It's unbelievable.)

  • alasanon

    Poor babies!! And animals don't know better to move! (nor do the Japanese & their babies?!!) It figures that warm-blooded mammals are getting the worst of it out there. 🙁

    • alasanon

      I've read that large reptiles, for example, can take a lot more than we ever could… I hope these little pups can be fully rehabilitated and sheltered. (and prayers for all the children who are getting the high dosages, too!! It's unbelievable.)

      • alasanon

        oops–delay. I just had to check in for a tragedy update…as the rain keeps pouring outside! hmmmm… 🙁

        Good luck to everyone out there! It's getting dicey!!…

        I know of quite a few funerals of seniors and some low birth weight babies…and some health frailties popping up. I don't see a lot of people who look "glowing" amongst the public. I dunno. It's hard not to get religious on this site!…

  • minkxy minkxy

    Typical corporate head scratching…drrrr. BTW , weren't californians complaining about all the sea lions on docks? That was just a couple years ago. Seems they are solving it with the wait and see on fuki.

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  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    You/we are witnessing bioaccumulation..

  • jec jec

    Anyone have any news on the status on the sealife since March's suddenly quiet time? Funny all is "better'–or did all the sealife die off so no more evidence…?? We are still waiting (year 2) for the results of radiation tests by the University of Alaska on sick seals. Note "sick" as the healthy ones tested..guess what??!!..did not show signs of radiation. So still waiting year 2 and counting for the test results on the SICK seals.

  • ftlt

    It's not just radiation… PH of the oceans are falling rapidly and other pollutants are taking theor tolls