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Diatribe: Starving California Sea Lions.

03/23/2013

california_sea_lion_7C2V9829One of my favorite vacations was an impromptu trip to Portland, Maine.  Like many beautiful old cities in the northeastern United States, there is a lot of history to be found.  The Atlantic coastline in the northern states is uniquely beautiful and is home to wildlife and sea life that is unique to the region.

One of the interesting memories from this vacation was a boat ride past Seal Island.  There were seals everywhere!  I had never seen a seal outside of a zoo or an aquarium and it was amazing to see them flocking about like crows or squirrels in other parts of the country.  They were like cute wild puppies.  Of course, some of the locals perceived them to be a nuisance but I thought they were fascinating.

I was sad to learn that young sea lions in California are in danger of starving to death and it’s not clear why.  On average, about one hundred sea lions are rescued in Southern California during the winter but in just the last three months seven hundred animals have been saved.  It is unclear why the sea lions are starving.

“They’re very sick.  A normal sea lion at this age – 8 to 9 months old – should be around 60-70 pounds.  We’re seeing them come into our center at 20-25 pounds, and really they look like walking skeletons.” – Keith Matassa, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.

Sea lions depend on herring, sardines and other small fish found close to California’s coast to survive.

“We’re looking at whether the prey that these animals should be eating just isn’t available to them for some reason, and that could be because there’s less of it or because it’s moved and it’s not accessible.” – Sarah Wilkin, Marine Biologist, the National Marine Fisheries Service.

It can take four months of care before the animals are strong enough to be released back into the Pacific.  Scientists worry they’ll find even more starving sea lions in the weeks ahead because April and May are usually peak months for sea lion rescues.

I sure hope they can figure something out to save the California seals.  If they’re as cute as the seals in Maine, and I’m sure they are, it would be a shame to see them go.

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4 Comments
  1. First off: Happy Blogiversary! Cheers to many more.

    Second off, I hope something can be done as well about these beautiful creatures. Too often, we [man] let animals just disappear and I hope we can do something this time.

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  2. It seems the global warming and over fishing cause the fishermen to have to go further out. You cannot find much cod in Cape Cod, e.g. There has to be a linkage here.

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  3. If there is not enough food for the baby seals, the grown up seals will stop reproducing as often to make the adjustment. It gets a little awkward for a few years where more human help is required. I think the advantage is maybe there won’t need to be any seal clubbing for years which is barbaric.

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