Thursday, 7 May 2015

Sea lion strandings: The view from the rookery

Date:

May 6, 2015

Source:

NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service

Summary:

Wildlife biologists are describing conditions at the sea lion rookeries on the Channel Islands, where pups are going hungry because unusually warm water along the Pacific coast has made it more difficult for their mothers to find food.

For a few months now, sea lion pups have been stranding on the coast of Southern California. So many have washed up, emaciated and exhausted, that marine mammal care centers can scarcely hold them all. But while most people first notice the pups on the beach, their desperate plight began on the Channel Islands, which are about 25 miles offshore of Santa Barbara. Those islands are home to the sea lion rookeries where the pups are born and where they spend the first year of life.

Many pups at the rookeries are going hungry, according to Sharon Melin, a wildlife biologist with the NOAA Fisheries National Marine Mammal Laboratory who recently returned from 3 weeks of fieldwork on the Channel Islands.

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