Federal gov’t declares rare Unusual Mortality Event in So. California — 70% of all newborn sea lions may be dying — Testing for toxins, infectious agents (VIDEO)

Published: March 28th, 2013 at 8:59 pm ET


KPBS, March 28, 2013 at 3:00p ET: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration determined the current number of sea lion strandings warrants an investigation. The agency is calling the situation an unusual mortality event. […] Any number of things could be causing problems, said [Stephanie Venn-Watson works at the National Marine Mammal Foundation in San Diego], including infections, toxins or simply not enough food.

NOAA: Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (as amended), an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) has been declared for California sea lions in California from January 2013 through the present. Beginning in January 2013, elevated strandings of California sea lion pups have been observed in Southern California (Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties). The area with the highest reported stranding rates is currently Los Angeles County, followed by Orange County, and strandings are increasing in San Diego County. […] As part of the UME investigation process, an independent team of scientists (investigation team) is being assembled to coordinate with the Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events (Working Group) to review the data collected and to determine potential next steps. The group will focus on the immediate response and develop the investigative plan.

San Diego 6: The National Marine Fisheries has declared an Unusual Mortality Event, that’s something that’s rarely done in the Southern California area. It’s a formal declaration that there’s a serious problem that needs immediate attention. Susan Chivers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says because the animals are starving, researchers are examine their food source. She says they are also investigating whether a bacteria or virus could be to blame. “It’s hard to know what comes first because a starving pup is more susceptible to disease,” Chivers said.

Wired: The total number of rescues at those centers, as of Mar. 24, is 948 pups, […] The number of rescued pups is just a fraction of the sea lions in trouble, with scientists estimating that mortality rates in the sea lions’ offshore rookeries could reach as high as 70 percent. […] The cause of the mass stranding? Still unknown. But the magnitude of the mass stranding has prompted NOAA Fisheries to declare it an “Unusual Mortality Event,” a declaration that mobilizes federal resources for use in the ongoing investigation. Soon, an independent team will begin coordinating the investigation’s next steps, which could include additional necropsies, tissue sampling, and testing for potential biotoxins or infectious agents in the area.

Watch local news coverage of the Unusual Mortality Event here

Published: March 28th, 2013 at 8:59 pm ET


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45 comments to Federal gov’t declares rare Unusual Mortality Event in So. California — 70% of all newborn sea lions may be dying — Testing for toxins, infectious agents (VIDEO)

  • patb2009

    I hope they are testing for radiation.

    • SEMIjt

      I am sure they'll tell us right away…. /sarc
      plenty of civillians testing now:

  • weeman

    First test I would do is for leukemia if there is that much strontium in pacific ocean.

    • ion jean ion jean

      Great! Now maybe they can do an Unusual Mortality Event study for Human Babies because the Cs137 levels in So. Cal mean there was a lot of Iodine 131 that was just barely starting to decay out by the time the plumes started hitting our West Coast…increase in stillborn across U.S. confirmed by Caldicott, Moret.

      Now I see Ag Group pushing little "Cuties" radioactive oranges on our children…"They're grown for kids!"

      I am trying not to buy any CA or WA produce for awhile; with recent cooling pool releases currently circling the Jet Stream, I incessantly watch weather modeling right now…

      According to readings on radiationnetwork, Minnesota and Maine have been trending up all week…Arizona and So. Cal too so the plume must have split into two…

  • Time Is Short Time Is Short

    Making this declaration allows the Feds to come in and take control, providing cover for a complete information blackout. You can bet a large number of the volunteers in those centers are screaming about testing for radiation, and they need to be silenced.

    This also allows the Feds to be on-site on the coasts in a big way as the Fuku debris starts to come in, further providing a cover for information control.

    Does anyone really think the Feds will allow anyone with a Geiger counter to go down and start scanning debris?

    • Jebus Jebus

      I've seen testing being done here on the Oregon and Washington coasts. Some of the news reports have encouraged it and asked to report if anything is found. IMO, there wont be much, if any, higher levels found initially, the Ocean is a very efficient washing machine…
      But the debris deluge will go on for a couple of years or more…

      • Time Is Short Time Is Short

        From a previous post:

        "The Kuroshio (Japanese 黒潮 "Black Tide") is a north-flowing ocean current on the west side of the North Pacific Ocean. It is similar to the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic and is part of the North Pacific ocean gyre. Like the Gulf stream, it is a strong western boundary current."


        "The Kuroshio Current, which is located just off Japan's coast, travels up to 75 miles a day at a speed of up to 3 miles per hour."


        The straight line distance between Seattle and Fukushima is approximately 4683 miles or 7537 kilometers, so it took 63 days for the radioactive water to hit the Pacific Northwest.

        Two years later, the NA West Coast is thoroughly saturated with Fuku radiation of the highest order, bio-accumulating in the water and seabed, bio-magnifying in the coastal sealife, only getting worse daily from the continual radiation flows from Fukushima.

        I wouldn't go near a West Coast beach at this point. And especially don't be breathing the sea mist. The beach communities are finished.

    • Why not, someone should try.

  • SwimsWithGators

    Can't move too fast here. This has only been going on for a few months. It's not like the US is set up for any kind of fast response to things so just take it easy. Trust the government. DON'T PANIC!!

    Ok… sarcasm aside, there are a few things we need to know:

    How many seals are out there?

    Why have the mother's quit nursing their children?

    Is there corium still on the seaweed?

    Last year was this ENE report:
    Southern California had 2,500 Bq/kg of iodine-131 in seaweed — Over 500% higher than other tests in U.S., Canada


    What is the latest science on the Pacific currents?

    Has there ever been a seal emergency like this before?

    • ML

      The sealion mothers may not have stopped nursing, but rather not been able to produce enough milk.
      Here's one study to ponder: "High-dose breast radiation for the therapy of breast cancer can decrease or eliminate subsequent milk production in the treated breast, but not the untreated breast. Medical professionals sometimes advise mother's who have received breast cancer surgery and radiation not to breastfeed; however, it appears that these concerns are unfounded. Lower radiation doses to the breast in the treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma appear to have only a minor effect on subsequent lactation success." from: http://anikamd.com/breastfeeding/radiotherapy.htm
      Not sure

      • ML

        Not sure that the milk from an irradiated breast should be imbibed by an infant. Especially if the source of radiation is from internal exposure. Maybe reduction in amount of breast milk produced protects the infant from over-exposure.?

    • pcjensen

      "Has there ever been a seal emergency like this before?" – not in all the years I lived in Calif & west coast has there ever been an event like this to this degree. I'm 51 and lived on west coast for most of my life.

  • Sickputer

    Interesting Canadian study that reveals some clues on sea lion mortality:

    "Sea lions are well known for their ability to learn tricks. But with the help of trainers from Vancouver Aquarium, Prof Trites has trained four females to follow voice commands and hand gestures that enable them to take part in scientific experiments….

    It's the first time that sea lions have been used in this way. They have been trained for the project since they were pups 15 years ago. According to one of the trainers, Troy Neil, it has been a long, hard process."

    Another early result from these experiments, according to Professor Trites, is that these mammals are suffering because they may be eating the wrong kind of food.

    "It's called the junk food hypothesis," he told BBC News. "These animals need oily fish such as herring, sand eels and salmon to thrive. But instead they are eating pollock and the animals are full before they get enough calories."


    SP: So why do they avoid their former favored food sources? The world wonders…

    • SwimsWithGators

      Avoiding their favorites? Or are the faves depleted?

      We know salmon are becoming rare. Herring are over fished for cat food. Sand eels are bottom feeders and that is where heavy metals reside. Heavy metals like cesium, etc.

      Always had a sneaking suspicion that when Fuku blew, all the nuke plant operators saw that as a good time to release some of their stores and blame any found depositions on Fuku. "It wasn't us, it was them." Perfect cover. Hey, we know we can't trust them.

      • Time Is Short Time Is Short

        "Always had a sneaking suspicion that when Fuku blew, all the nuke plant operators saw that as a good time to release some of their stores and blame any found depositions on Fuku."

        No doubt, and an excellent call, SWG. I would add that since 3/11 they've been doing it constantly, and as Fuku gets worse, there's even less reason for them to continue following safety guidelines. From management's standpoint, why not kill those that are already dead, and save a fortune? Obviously the NRC doesn't give a damn.

        “You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid.”

        – Rahm Emanuel

        Accelerating the extinction of every living thing on this planet, and live like a king while cutting NPP safety costs.

        And if anyone thinks I'm kidding, find out where all the NPP and NRC management live. They live upwind far, far away. No one at HQ lives anywhere near an NPP. Just the ratepaying suckers – with their children.

        • Sickputer

          "And if anyone thinks I'm kidding, find out where all the NPP and NRC management live. They live upwind far, far away"

          SP: I think everyone in Washington DC is pretty well downwind…

          The NRC director Allison Macfarlane came from George Mason University (Virginia) and presumably her husband (another professor there) and her two kids still live there. I don't know her housing situation, but probably transitory like most nucleocrats in DC.

          NPPs in Virginia
          VIRGINIA (license extensions)
          North Anna 1 Dominion April 1, 2038
          North Anna 2 Dominion August 21, 2040
          Surry 1 Dominion May 25, 2032
          Surry 2 Dominion January 29, 2033

          All US plants:


          The eastern US is all pretty much downwind.

          • Mack Mack

            Americans don't want nuclear energy!

            76% want Solar Power and 71% want wind power!

            This is such an important poll, taken by Gallup:

            "Americans Want More Emphasis on Solar, Wind, Natural Gas"

            "No fewer than two in three Americans want the U.S. to put more emphasis on producing domestic energy using solar power (76%), wind (71%), and natural gas (65%). Far fewer want to emphasize the production of oil (46%) and the use of nuclear power (37%)."


            • PavewayIII PavewayIII

              Then Americans should hire expensive lobbyists to influence their elected representatives – preferably with small, unmarked bills.

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    I'd only believe findings from Helen Caldicott and Leuren Moret on something like this.

  • CodeShutdown CodeShutdown

    First, massive quantities of radiation enter the ocean…ten times Chernobyl. Then millions of fish go belly up, seen in the California Redondo beach harbor. Then seals and walrus have radiation like disease in Alaska. Now 70% of southern California sea lions are dying. A child of five might think these are related, but we will never get an answer in the news. They say that radiation makes animals dumber. Perhaps the fallout from the nuclear testing days is responsible for the madness of today (sarcasm). Does a group of lunatics know they are in a group of lunatics, or do they take it for normal?

  • CodeShutdown CodeShutdown

    Coasts, once the living border of the oceans, receiving nutrient runoff from the land. Coasts, now dead zones, receiving concentrated pollution from runoff. (sometimes "too much" nutrient, but in the end hypoxia). This is the Midas Touch; greedy man hoped everything he touched would turn to money and gold, but instead it was the kiss of death. Perpetrators will only be concerned about sea life when they can no longer put it in their mouths and eat it.

  • Mack Mack

    Follow the timeline. It's the radiation.

  • many moons

    inconclusive, that's what they will say, something about a bacteria that kills fish that the sea lions need for development that has been depleated leaving the baby pups open to infection and disease and bla bla bla…maybe it's that mysetrious yellow rain or the unnamed black powder that has caused this horrible situation. Don't hold your breath.

    Someone should perform an independent autopsy and publish the results…to hell with these lying, spineless institution!

  • We Not They Finally

    Not mentioning testing for radiation is the glaring DELIBERATE omission. Of course they are testing!! They think they need to know, just that WE don't need to know. And incidentally, animals' instincts are way better than humans. Like they will react PRIOR to an earthquake. So maybe they are rejecting milk, even if it is coming from "mom." They need to test the female adults, they need to test the animals' food supply (apparently there was a big die-off of sardines, which is a mainstay food for them), and then YES, they need to tell US!

  • skizexq skizexq

    Yes, indeed, no more official rad sensor info for the public to be concerned about!

    I wonder too if there are some Navy exercises going on off WA OR that are contributing to the mix…



  • dosdos dosdos

    I still think it has a great deal to do with the nursing adults eating plastic debris they can't digest and starving because of the persistent blockage in the stomach, leaving the pups abandoned as orphans.

    Think on it, where are the adults? Why all these pups and no adults with them? That is most unusual. What attacks the adults first, the pups later? If it were toxins or radiation, it would attack the pups first, because they are more vulnerable, and there would be visible signs, such as sores.

    This plastic blockage is being seen everywhere the debris field exists. Fish caught have stomachs that are fully loaded with plastic bits, so do the mammals. It is causing a huge kill off in the Pacific in all large species. The debris field is reaching the US west coast, and we're starting to see the effect. This will continue until the debris field moves away from the US coast.

    • m a x l i

      Sea lions have the habit to swallow large amounts of stones, which seems not to result in a "blockage":

      Scientists have found stones in the stomachs of various species of sea lions, including California sea lions. One specimen was found to have 27.2 kg (60 lb.) of stones in its stomach. Experts don't know why sea lions swallow stones. Some theories include the following: adding extra weight for ballast while swimming, helping to stop irritation from intestinal parasites, and assisting in digestion. They may also swallow stones for no reason at all.


      Maybe they swallowed some MOX pellets lying around on the ocean floor?

  • CB CB

    In a sick way, in glad msm is not covering this as it would affect my quality of life. It would affect my families quality of life. No suicide sushi, or suicide shrimp here. I do what i can knowing what you all have given me for my family, even though misunderstood. Maybe i can still buy them years, though tragity haunts them. When will thier blind eyes open?

  • CodeShutdown CodeShutdown

    Actions of man are at the root of the die offs, and include many factors. We have eaten all the fish! There will be virtually nothing left to fish from the seas by the middle of the century if current trends continue, according to a major scientific study. saltwater fishes in Southern California have plummeted 90% since 1980. Sea otters are in decline, not surprisingly. Now radiation. How the starving people will fight over food. Man ruined the planet in a mere 100 years.

  • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad


    Fukushima: 2012 Hawaii And Arizona Dairy Milk Test Up To 800% Higher Than Safety Limits; via A Green Road http://agreenroad.blogspot.com/2012/04/fukushima-hawaii-arizona-dairy-milk.html

  • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

    The young are where radiation shows up FIRST.

    Whole species of birds did not have any young in year that Chernobyl happened, GLOBALLY. They all DIED.

    Dr. Caldicott said that babies are 1,000 times more sensitive to radiation than adults.

    This is why babies die, and adults stay 'healthy'. This is true both in humans, birds, mammals such as seals etc.

    It makes sense that as radiation swings around from Alaska and then down the coast of California, that young pups would be affected first, then adults would show signs of radiation damage.

    What happened to the seal pup population in Alaska this year?

    That would be a HUGE clue.

  • We Not They Finally

    Obviously as the species on this planet die in mass.We are looking at an unending extermination of all life on this planet….Its critical
    that we look not only for radiation as a factor immediately for many species but also the food chain which allows us all to feed at all.Once the food chain is gone it will be just a question of time before all life ends…Its hard to know the answer to how long we have..We must understand this is an eterenal process that has been set off..Its an On The Beach scenario…WE dont need to use missles ..Nuclear reactors are deadly enough.

  • timemachine2020 timemachine2020

    California says they can't figure out why their honey bees are dying at an alarming rate. Blaming new pesticides, drought and so on. Why the obvious truth is constantly avoided is beyond me. We know why, the public is so naive to what is happening. Denial, denial, denial….. One hell of a way to boil water! Fukushima is all around us. Mass sea creature dye offs from Alaska to Peru. FUKU PLUME is killing the Pacific Ocean and wherever the jetstream from Japan rains. What a sad sad day it is. Take care all. Start living every day like its your last.

    • robu

      From Wikipedia about Colony Collapse Disorder:
      As early as the 1900s, colony collapses have occurred and been documented in the U.S. Reports show this behavior in hives in 1918 [21] and 1919.[21] Coined "Mystery Disease" by some,[21] it eventually became more widely known as "Disappearing Disease".[21] Oertel, in 1965,[22] reported that hives afflicted with Disappearing Disease in Louisiana had plenty of honey in the combs although there were few or no bees, discrediting reports that attributed the disappearances to lack of food.

      The issue has been around much longer than Fukushima.

  • We Not They Finally

    IN 100 years do to break throughs in technology and massive greed stupidity and selfishness Humanity has destroyed the earth.

    What a total waste of time.What were the wealthiest swine who ever lived thinking??? They should start thinking of cause and effect and wonder if there really is Judgement and God?

  • We Not They Finally

    THe basic problem is that the over seer class that has made its business to help the earth grow have destroyed it.Massive greed and selfishness has led to the unending destruction of everything humanity needs to survive.
    WE are looking at the dying Oceans.. The masquerade of radioactive death encroaching on us all with a poison that cant be seen tasted or felt until its too late.What are we waiting for?
    A few last items in our bucket lists to appease us before we perish?
    Its a shame that those who should have acted on our interests act only on a tiny percentage of our fellow humans interests.The 1% of the 1%..The very wealthy and powerful.

  • m a x l i

    Different species, same ocean:

    "Countless Dead Shrimp and Crabs Litter Chile Beaches"

    "I'm 69 years old and started fishing when I was nine. But as a fisherman, I never saw a disaster of this magnitude.''

    "[…] local fishermen suggested the deaths could have been caused by local power stations that use seawater as a cooling agent."


    (Before you start to look it up, the local power stations in question are not nuclear. In 2010, Chile had intentions and plans to build a few nuclear power plants. In 2011, they buried those plans. Surprised?)

  • Cisco Cisco

    "Tests conducted on samples of Macrocystis pyrifera, also known as Giant kelp, revealed the presence of radioactive iodine-131 at levels 500 percent higher in Southern California than in any other area of the country tested."… http://www.naturalnews.com/036449_seaweed_California_radiation.html

    That's just the iodine-131 minus about 15 other radioactive isotopes that weren't counted.

    Seals and pups rest and forage in the kelp fields.

    It's the radiation, stupid!