"Fruitvale" is a young California sea lion patient that was rescued from the northbound lanes of I-880 in Oakland, CA on June 22. The one-year-old pup is suffering from malnourishment and is being treated at The Marine Mammal Center. Photo: The Marine Mammal Center.
In recent weeks, The Marine Mammal Center has rescued hundreds of young California sea lion pups that are stranding as a result of malnourishment up and down the coast between San Luis Obispo and Mendocino Counties. This is almost double the number of rescues compared to last year at this time. Volunteers and staff are working at a feverish pitch to respond to all of the rescue calls from the public and are even triaging patients temporarily in the Center's Monterey and Morro Bay facilities. Animal care volunteers are also working hard to feed and care for the patients on site, pulling 10 hours shifts or more each day. The majority of these pups are just skin and bones and nearly half are dying as a result of medical conditions resulting from malnourishment.
Scientists are not sure why the sea lions are not finding the fish they would normally eat such as anchovies and sardines, but it appears that a higher number of sea lion pups were born in the Channel Islands last year and the competition for food sources that have dwindled or moved elsewhere, is now fierce causing many of the pups to come ashore weak and with little or no energy to return to the water. Officials with NOAA say it's too early to confirm that an El Nino phenomenon is happening. During those conditions, the seal lions' food sources tend to go deeper and further north. Sea lion pups mostly feed along the California coast.
Visit our website to learn how you can get involved today to help these sea lion pups get a second chance at life!