Clockwise: A California sea lion rest on a dock in San Francisco. Water Rescue Team members from The Marine Mammal Center use a special net to capture a sea lion. TMMC veterinarian Nicola Pussini collects blood samples from one sea lion before releasing it back to the water. A successful capture. NMFS Permit # 932-1489-10. Photos: The Marine Mammal Center
Larger numbers of California sea lions are stranding along the coast this year as a result of a bacterial infection called leptospirosis, and that's keeping staff and volunteers here very busy rescuing and administering treatment. The disease affects the kidneys of these animals, and in many cases causes death. Cases of leptospirosis appear every year, with outbreaks every 4-5 years. The Center is advancing its studies of the disease by collecting blood samples from juvenile sea lions in the wild. The data from these samples will help the Center understand more about the susceptibility of sea lions in the population during an epidemic and clarify the relationship between the stranded sea lions with leptospirosis seen here at the Center and those that are susceptible in the population. Collaborators in this new study include the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, University of California Los Angeles, University of California at Davis, Penn State University, and the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa.