MOSS LANDING, Calif. -- Rescue groups along the Central Coast are scrambling to take care of dozens of baby sea lions that have been found over the last couple of weeks.
Most of the sea lion pups have been found stranded in Southern California near the Channel Islands because that's where most of the breeding happens. Now some of the mal-nourished animals are starting to show up here.
One of the babies was rescued on Thursday. Marine Mammal Center Manager Sue Andrews said she believes the pup was born last June. "This year they are for some reason coming out of the rookery under weight, underfed and emaciated," said Andrews.
Sue said it's not just baby sea lions that are being found emaciated. "We have a weaned baby elephant seal pup, so probably a January baby," said Andrews.
Marine Mammal Centers bring the emaciated pups to a vet hospital to get them checked out. Afterwards the animals get taken to stranding centers for rehabilitation. Most of the animals that get sent to rehab centers are re-released back into the wild. If an animal is not able to go back into the ocean, it is sent to non-profits who take care of the animals for life.
Biologists are still investigating why the malnourished sea lion pups are stranding. Moss Landing Marine Laboratories Trainer, Stefani Skrovan said there could be a lack of food available and El Nino could be the reason why all the animals are showing up sick and starved. "El Nino is a very common and very silical pattern where almost all normal weather patterns shift and the prevailing winds die allowing the other winds to come with and actually reverse the ocean weather patterns," said Skrovan.
NOAA Researchers said more than 517 emaciated sea lions have been found in Southern California and 39 have been picked up along the Central Coast.
If you see an animal that may appear stranded, do not try to help it. Instead call one of the Marine Mammal Centers:
San Diego County - (800) 341-7325
Orange County - (949) 494-3050
Los Angeles County - (310) 548-5677
Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties - (805) 687-3255
San Luis Obispo - Mendocino Counties - (415) 289-7325
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