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The Marine Mammal Center is a nonprofit veterinary hospital, research, and educational center dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of ill and injured marine mammals and the study of their health. Since 1975, the Center has rescued and treated more than 16,500 marine mammals and has accumulated a body of knowledge about marine mammal and ocean health. Through public education about marine mammals, the Center hopes to foster ocean stewardship and conservation. For more information, visit http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/

Monday, June 28, 2010

Strange Birth Places for Sea Lion Pups

Sea lion pups take a nap at The Marine Mammal Center.

In a typical year, sea lion pups are born far from people, usually in remote places. This year was anything but typical. 2010 has been a year for strange birth places, such as Pier 39 and the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. These spots are unusual for two reasons: they are crowded with people and they are located far north of typical rookeries.

Female California sea lions normally give birth in large groups from the California Channel Islands south to Baja California, Mexico. Pups are not normally born in Monterey Bay.

Although we do not know exactly what is causing this unusual pupping year, we can point to some factors that may be involved. Pupping factors similar to 2010 were also seen in 1998 and 1999 - the last major El Nino years. Domoic acid poisoning may also be a contributor to this year of strange birth place patterns for pups.

The scientific community is closely watching and documenting the events from this year. Through these careful observations, we hope to gain additional knowledge about these marine mammals and the health of the ocean.

Want to learn more? Read about what researchers are learning from this year's events, and find out how you can help the Center's current patients.

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