Fox San Diego, Jan 27, 2015 (emphasis added): SeaWorld rescue teams have taken in more than 50 baby sea lions stranded on San Diego shores… “Their skin is so loose hanging off them, it looks like they’re wearing pajamas” [said SeaWorld's] Jody Wetberg…
LA Times, Jan 30, 2015: “Their growth is stunted,” said Shawn Johnson… at the Marine Mammal Center… “They’re basically starved to death — no muscle, no fat, just skin and bones.”… January 2015, however, has been “extremely unusual” for the Northern California center, he said. In winter, the sea lion population is concentrated in Southern California, then shifts northward in late summer, Johnson said. So for the center to see so many animals is cause for further concern… “Maybe the fish have all left, and that’s why this is happening.”
Union-Tribune, Jan 27, 2015: Wave after wave of starving sea lion pups are drifting ashore… Pups in the Channel Island rookeries were about 19% below average… said Sharon Melin, a wildlife biologist with NOAA… Some of the pups arrive barely over their birth weight.
OC Register, Jan 25, 2015: ‘Prepare for the worst’: Struggling to save starving sea lions… experts say the numbers could hit even higher levels than in 2013… The difference this year: Starving pups showed up as early as December... The mothers – to nourish themselves and provide milk – swam as far as 120 miles north toward Monterrey… [In 2013, Melin] recorded pups at only half their previous weights… last September, the weights were down again… [She had] another research trip out last month. But the skinny pups had only gained 4 pounds… “We’ve told the centers to prepare for the worst,” she said.
CBS San Diego, Jan 28, 2015: It’s a marine mammal mystery. Why are so many sick and starving California sea lion pups been found stranded on our local beaches, just since January 1? “They are so emaciated, they really do look like walking skeletons,” Jody Westberg of SeaWorld San Diego said. So far, this new year, SeaWorld San Diego has rescued well over 60 mostly malnourished sea lions. It’s an unprecedented number in such a short time, especially so early in the year. “It doesn’t seem to be slowing down…” Westberg said… “These animals are basically dying on our beaches,” Dr. Hendrik Nollens of SeaWorld said.
Santa Cruz Sentinel, Jan 27, 2015: [A]long the Central Coast, sea lion pups [are] down to skin and bones. “Sometimes they could barely lift their heads” [said veterinarian Claire Simeone].
ABC 7, Jan 27, 2015: [B]iologists believe El Nino or other ocean influences are making it harder for the mammals to find food… (ocean changes could be harming) their food source
San Diego 6 News, Jan 29, 2015: Sea lions found on San Diego County beaches recently are so hungry they’ve been gnawing on rocks. Some have been found near death, with a belly full of sand and rock, because there’s nothing else for them to eat.
San Diego Reader, Jan 29, 2015: Their skin hangs on bones… barely move around, and they crowd together for warmth… a new, worse calamity of starving babies washing up seems to be unfolding… The arrival x-rays for one sea lion revealed the critter had four pounds of rocks in its belly… their bodies have started to shut down.
KPCC, Jan 27, 2015: The number of stranded animals, at this point, outpaces even that from [the 2013] “unusual mortality event”… Justin Viezbicke [of National Marine Fisheries Service:] “We’re kind of putting all these things together and basically preparing for the worst”
Published: February 1st, 2015 at 5:49 pm ET