Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Earth Science News .




WATER WORLD
Mass sea lion strandings baffle California
by Staff Writers
San Pedro, United States / California (AFP) April 16, 2013


A stranded and malnourished juvenile sea lion is rescued by Peter Wallerstein of Marine Animal Rescue on April 5, 2013 in Long Beach, California. All along the California coast, sea lions have been getting stranded in great numbers since January for reasons unknown. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration estimates that in the first three months of 2013, more than 900 malnourished sea lions have been rescued in the region compared to 100 during the same time period one year ago. Officials have declared an "unusual mortality event" for the California sea lion, a designation that prompts immediate federal response. Photo courtesy AFP.

Peter Wallerstein realized something was seriously wrong when a sea lion pup turned up seven miles inland at a cellphone store in California.

The number of the starving animals stranded along the southern California coastline has been rising since January, but usually they were just found on beaches. Now they were everywhere. And there were hundreds of them.

And, while the immediate crisis seems to have abated, experts are scratching their heads over what could have caused a tidal wave of sick and malnourished animals over the last two or three months.

"I wasn't too alarmed in the beginning," 61-year-old Wallerstein of Marine Animal Rescue, who has been saving the mammals for nearly three decades, told AFP.

"But when the numbers got to be higher, where we're getting 75 to 100 calls a day and finding animals at the Carson Verizon store and under cars, finding them all over the place, one after another, it kinda put a red flag up."

Carson, 20 miles south of Los Angeles, lies several miles back from the ocean-front.

"It had to swim miles and miles up the flood control canal, cross a couple of roads, almost get hit by a car. The sheriff's deputies called me about 11:30 at night, saying 'Hey, we've got a sea lion at the Verizon store'."

Stranded sea lion pups are nothing unusual in these parts -- dozens of them are cared for by rescue centers along the coast every year, when they struggle to forage for themselves after being weaned from their mothers.

But usually rescuers don't start seeing them until April.

"What happened this year was, we started seeing those pups that should have still been with their mother, showing up as early as January, at six months of age," said biologist Sharon Melin of the National Marine Fisheries Service.

"It has been increasing ever since," she told AFP from Seattle, adding that there were two main theories -- either disease running through the population, or shortage of food, both of which are being intensively investigated.

Neither can explain this year's unexpected surge in strandings.

"What made this event really unusual is that the age and class of animals is very specific, and the fact it started so early," said Melin, adding there was apparently "no large scale regional event" that could have caused the problem.

Wallerstein said that, at the height of the crisis, he was working round the clock responding to calls about stranded pups.

After catching the forlorn animals, he mostly took then to the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, situated on a picturesque headland looking out over the sparkling Pacific.

The center's director David Bard, told AFP the baby sea lions coming in were on average half the normal weight of 50 to 60 pounds.

"Typically in the first three months of the year we'll see between 50 and 80 animals. This year by the end of March we had well over 400 admitted," he said.

The sea lions are housed in an array of pens. The smallest and weakest are under constant surveillance in a separate unit, while others are moved to bigger pens with deeper pools, to be cared for and fed as they recover.

Some, inevitably, don't make it. "As with any hospital there are some that don't survive," he said, adding: "If we have an animal that is undergoing pain and suffering and we can't cure it some of those animals are euthanized."

Back out on the beaches, Wallerstein recalls how, at the worst point in the crisis, there were too many rescued sea lion pups, and not enough space to house them.

"We were like a paramedic without a hospital. It really hurt, we were having to relocate animals that I knew were in trouble" to less exposed beach areas, but with no backup care. "As rescuers we had no other option," he said.

Jim Milbury of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), based in Long Beach, said that between January and March, 1,098 sea lion pups were stranded on the coastline between Santa Barbara and San Diego.

That compares to a historic average of 131. In Los Angeles County alone, the number stranded is 412, compared to 48 on average for the first three months of previous years.

Wallerstein said call outs have dropped but biologist Melin, in Seattle, said numbers may begin to increase again.

"We would expect that it might have a little lull now, but the proper weaning time is right now so normally the stranding centers will get an uptick in stranding," she said.

"If the event is ending, then maybe that number is going to be normal. If it's continuing. We would expect maybe another increase."

.


Related Links
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





WATER WORLD
Sea Mammals Find U.S. Safe Harbor
Burlington VT (SPX) Apr 16, 2013
In 1972, a U.S. Senate committee reported, "Many of the great whales which once populated the oceans have now dwindled to the edge of extinction," due to commercial hunting. The committee also worried about how tuna fishing was accidentally killing thousands of dolphins, trapped in fishing gear. And they considered reports about seal hunting and the decline of other mammals, including sea otters ... read more


WATER WORLD
Fukushima leaking radioactive water

IAEA begins fresh probe into Japan's Fukushima

Fukushima plant springs another radioactive leak

Hong Kong ferry crash captains face manslaughter charges

WATER WORLD
High pressure gold nanocrystal structure revealed

Scientists design new adaptive material inspired by tears

UC Research Demonstrates Why Going Green Is Good Chemistry

Florida Tech professors present 'dark side of dark lightning' at conference

WATER WORLD
Mass sea lion strandings baffle California

Cutting specific pollutants would slow sea level rise

Scientists stress need for national marine biodiversity observation network

Sea Mammals Find U.S. Safe Harbor

WATER WORLD
New insight into accelerating summer ice melt on the Antarctic Peninsula

Recent climate, glacier changes in Antarctica at the 'upper bound' of normal

Austria's glaciers shrank in 2012: study

New chart shows the entire topography of the Antarctic seafloor in detail

WATER WORLD
Taiwan to ban killing of live poultry in markets

Chinese thirst for baby formula boosts Danone sales

Salt-tolerant rice bred at Philippines institute

China media urge eating poultry despite bird flu

WATER WORLD
Huge quake hits Iran, kills 34 in Pakistan

'Sandy' removed from hurricane name list

Indonesian floods kill eleven

Strong 6.3-magnitude quake hits western Japan

WATER WORLD
Chad quits Mali war, French stick it out

China invested $1.5bn in Algeria in a decade: envoy

Alleged drug lord seized, but Africa trade grows

Sudan defence minister sees 'end' to Darfur uprising

WATER WORLD
New Research Reveals How Human Ancestor Walked, Chewed, and Moved

Pottery reveals Ice Age hunter-gatherers' taste for fish

Google adds 'digital estate planning' to its services

Better Understanding of Human Brain Supports National Security




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement