You may have heard about the sick seals and sea lion pups washing up on California beaches…
If you see one here on our Central Coast beach, you can call the Marine Mammal Center (in the Monterey Bay, the office is at Moss Landing) at 831-633-6298.
For other parts of California, visit the The Marine Mammal Center website or call them at (415)289-7325.
The image below is from a NOAA / National Marine Sanctuaries publication — Seals, Sea Lions and Sea Otters.
I spoke to Kristen at the above Monterey / Santa Cruz number for The Marine Mammal Center.
Kristen said that sometimes, the sea lions go ashore to rest or to warm up, and may go back out to sea. If they look thin, or sick, and especially if you see pups (which she said measure between 2 to 3 feet long) please call them and they will determine the actions they need to take.
They have the ability to take the seals in, or to transport them to San Luis Obispo or the main facility in Sausalito if needed (see The Marine Mammal Center website).
The NOAA / National Marine Sanctuaries publication on Seals, Sea Lions and Sea Otters also notes:
Never touch or try to push sea lions back into the ocean. There have been reports of misguided people doing this — very dangerous!
Further information from the pamphlet:
Sea lions, seals and sea otters are protected animals. It’s against federal law to disturb them or cause them to change their behavior.
You’re too close if an animal starts to stare, fidget or flee. Slowly back away and stay at least 150 feet or 46 meters away. Seals on land are especially wary and may rush into the water or abandon their pups, threatening their survival.
Last month, a New York Times article reported:
Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday about 940 sick and starving young sea lions have washed up on California beaches so far in 2015.
That compares to about 225 sea lion strandings that officials normally would see between January and April, said Justin Viezbicke, NOAA stranding coordinator for the West Coast region. Roughly 540 sea lion pups are being treated at rehabilitation centers between San Diego and San Francisco.
Climate change related? The article continues…
Scientists say warmer coastal waters are forcing nursing mothers in the Channel Islands or Mexico to head out farther for food, leaving behind their young for longer than the normal two or four days. An estimated 300,000 sea lions live from the Mexican border to Washington state.
NOAA Climatologist Nate Mantua said the warming is likely a historical record for the northeast Pacific and the West Coast. The ocean is between 2 and 5 degrees warmer for this time of year due to the same high-pressure system that has the state in its fourth year of drought.
This is the third year that an exceptional number of pups have stranded or died.
Sadly, the latest numbers for the sea lions strandings are now reported at over
1,400 now over 1,800 (updated March 20, 2015).
- When Jumbo Humboldt squid washed up on central California beaches (and one trapped at the Monterey Bay Aquarium tide pool)
Post about Severe Weather and Jellyfish Blooms – related to ocean warming for the WordPress weekly challenge Earth-Friendly Friday
About the Pelican Die Off — when sick baby pelicans started showing up in strange areas on the Central Coast during the summer of 2012.