10,000 baby sea lions have washed up dead on a California island, with experts calling the unexplained deaths a “crisis” and “[Pups] are washing ashore at a rate so alarming, rescuers said Thursday, this year is the worst yet”.
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KTLA, Mar 10, 2015: Stranding numbers for the months of January and February were more than 20 times the average [said NOAA].
ABC 10 News, Mar 14, 2015: Friday, Konnie Martinkis was burying her third sea lion… There were at least five within just more than a football field’s length that were dead… she contacted the city… but it just decomposed as more showed up… she will continue building those graves.
Coast News, Mar 12, 2015: [NOAA] said not to feed it [that] will only prolong the animals suffering.
KABC: Numbers are skyrocketing at alarming rates…Sunday, six sea lions were found dead
NY Times, Mar 12, 2015: “It’s getting crazy,” [Wendy Leeds, animal-care expert at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center] said… Sharon Melin, a wildlife biologist with [NOAA said] “We do expect the population to take a drop… probably a really good hit”… Michele Hunter, the center’s director of animal care, said, “It’s very difficult to see so much death.”
Sacramento Bee, Mar 7, 2015: Tens of thousands of pups birthed last summer are believed to be dying on the islands… some [are] desperately trying to climb onto small boats or kayaks… Scientists noted a worrisome anomaly in 2013, when 1,171 famished pups were stranded… scientists blamed the phenomenon on unseasonably cold waters… On San Miguel… Melin said researchers believe “probably close to 10,000 are dead, and we expect more to die over coming months”… the mortality rate is similar on San Nicolas.
Time: Experts at NOAA say that the culprit is rising ocean temperatures [note “unseasonably cold” ocean temps were the culprit during the record strandings in 2013]… a NOAA climate expert said that they do not believe the stranding increase is tied to climate change.
Marine Mammal Center, Mar 5, 2015: It’s clear these sea lions are trying to tell us something. Their very presence here in such great numbers at this time of year is sounding an alarm up and down the coast… it signals something complex happening in our ocean… sea lions are very sensitive to their environment… alerting us to major changes in the ocean… The scene on the Channel Islands this year is grave, worse even than what researchers saw in 2012, before the Unusual Mortality Event in 2013… “What’s scary is that we don’t know when this will end,” says Dr. Shawn Johnson, Director of Veterinary Science at The Marine Mammal Center. “This could be the new normal—a changed environment that we’re dealing with now.”
LA Daily News, Mar 13, 2015: “By the end of January, we had as many as we did in (all of) 2013,” [Marine Mammal Care Center’s David Bard] said… “We’ve never seen anything like this with back-to-back events that are affecting the same part of the population,” Melin said.
Dr. Melin: “Based on what we are seeing… we should be bracing for a lot more animals”
CBS Los Angeles, Mar 9, 2015: [California Wildlife Center’s Jeff Hall] says the event has escalated into a crisis. “I would personally consider this a crisis,” Hall said… The epidemic has prompted a number of volunteers to step forward, including… television personality Kat Von D [who said] “I think there’s a lack of awareness of what’s going on in the environment.”