Orange County Register, Jan 25, 2015 (emphasis added): … Marine mammal experts say the numbers could hit even higher levels than in 2013 [a record-setting year for sea lion strandings], which federal officials called an unusual mortality event… The difference this year: Starving pups showed up as early as December. Sick females and juveniles are also being found… “The difference [now] is we’re not just seeing little pups,” said Lauren Palmer, a veterinarian [with the Marine Mammal Center at Fort MacArthur]. “Females and yearlings are coming in… It’s really hard to wrap our head around the story of what’s happening.”…
David Bard, operations director at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, Jan 19, 2015: “What we’re seeing that’s different is we are seeing a wider array of species and age groups, so in other words [in 2013] we were seeing primarily California sea lion pups, this year we’re also seeing harbor seals and fur seals as well as some sub-adults and adults.”
Daily Breeze, Jan 19, 2015: This year, [Bard] said, there is more diversity among the animals being brought in. “There was a distinct pattern in 2013 of malnourished (sea lion) pups,” he said. This year, harbor seals and adult animals are also affected. “We’re looking at that and any other red flags so that as we move further into the season we may get more answers.”
L.A. Times, Jan 30, 2015: [P]ups aren’t the only ones in trouble. California marine mammal rehabilitation centers this month have treated record numbers of sea lions of all ages… “We’ve had 67 strandings of sea lions of all different ages,” said Johnson… “The whole population is getting hit hard… It’s a real shock to us,” he added. The story’s much the same in Southern California. “It’s shaping up to be a very, very bad year as far as rehabilitation,” said David Bard, operations director at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro. There were 75 animals at the center as of the end of January. Like its sister center in Sausalito, the facility was seeing a wider age range of sea lions in January, as well as a greater cross-section of species.
KPCC, Jan 27, 2015: [Justin Viezbicke, California Stranding Network coordinator for National Marine Fisheries Service said] numbers include more older animals than are usually found.
Laguna Beach Independent, Jan 19, 2015: So far this year, [the Pacific Marine Mammal Center] has also seen an increase in adult sea lion rescues needing medical care. “We are concerned”… executive director Keith Matassa said.
Reuters, Jan 29, 2015: … emaciated adults are also turning up, Matassa said.
CBS Los Angeles, Jan 27, 2015: Further alarming the center’s experts is an influx of varying species, according to Executive Director Keith Matassa. “The difference this year is we’re also seeing different species we don’t normally see down here,” Matassa said. In 2013, a record-setting year, the problem of sea lions coming ashore was limited mostly to Southern California, but now the entire coast is being affected, Matassa said.
Published: February 2nd, 2015 at 9:37 am ET