Rescue and rehabilitation facilities are at capacity with undernourished animals and have been flooded with calls from beachgoers who are encountering the mammals on the sand and, in some cases, even on sidewalks and roads.
According to CBS News, about 100 sea lions are rescued on California beaches annually. More than 700 have been rescued so far this year. Most have been recently-weaned juveniles.
“A normal sea lion at this age—8 to 9 months old—should be around 60, 70 pounds,” Matassa said. “We’re seeing them come into our center at 20 to 25 pounds, and they really look like walking skeletons.”
Young sea lions being cared for at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, California. Credit for all images and video: PMMC
Scientists are studying ocean currents and other environmental conditions in an attempt to determine why the bait fish is so scarce.
Sarah Wilkin of NOAA Fisheries said that nearly all of the rescued sea lions were born last summer, and that generally the pup strandings peak is May or June of the following year.
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