Hundreds of sick and starving sea lion pups are having to be rescued from California beaches this year. The pups are severely underweight; many don’t make it or have to be euthanized. It’s typical for pups to be rescued during the spring, but not to this extent. The number of rescued pups- so far- is five times greater than in 2013; more than 1,650 sea lion pups have been rescued since January and rescues started as early as December.
It is suspected that so many pups are being left stranded in these conditions because warmer waters from El Nino weather are effecting the breeding grounds of sea lions off of the Southern California coast. The warm water may be forcing squid, sardines, and anchovies further north; the mothers of pups must travel further to find food, leaving their pups alone for long periods of time.
Rescue centers are packed with rescued pups- several arrive in a day. Sea World has suspended its sea lion shows in order to help rescue efforts. Two temporary pools have been constructed to house rescued pups. Sea world typically treats 200 pups per year; in these months it has treated 400.