California on alert over surge in sea lion strandings

2015-03-18 11:35
Steller sea lion.

Steller sea lion. (Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Los Angeles - Wildlife experts sounded the alarm on Tuesday over a surge in famished sea lions, including many pups, stranded on Californian beaches.

Nearly 2 000 of the beached sea mammals have been registered since the start of the year, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

"We are seeing an unusually large increase of California sea lion pups stranding on the beaches of southern and central California," the authority said on its website.

In January and February, strandings were 20 times the average rate for the time of year.

In a conference call with reporters, an NOAA official said that up to 15 March more than 1 800 sea lions had been recorded, 750 of which were brought into its facilities, to be fed back up, treated for any health problems and then released into the ocean.

Increase in rescues

The Pacific Marine Mammal Centre (PMMC), which looks after between 200-300 of the mammals each year, also said it had registered an increase in adult sea lions requiring rescue and medical treatment.

Experts say warming sea temperatures are at least in part responsible, changing the availability of fish and other organisms on which sea lions prey.

Female sea lions, which weigh some 100kg (against 400kg for males), have to swim further to find food, leading them to become prematurely separated from their pups.

The next two months are likely to see an even greater surge in strandings, along the lines of a 2013 Unusual Mortality Event (UME), experts say, before hopefully the numbers will start to fall.

Nate Mantua of NOAA said one piece of good news was signs of northerly winds which would help bring colder waters more rich in nutrients, at least in northern California.

This could ease the food crisis which is driving the strandings, he said.

Read more on:    us  |  animals

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.