2001-Fri Jan 20 17:26:38 MST 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
The number of sea lion strandings in California has reached a record high of 2,250 so far this year. That means that if you’re living or traveling along the state’s coastline, there’s a much greater chance than usual that you’ll come across a pup in trouble.
Stranded sea lions — most of them young pups — have been found on beaches and
roadsides, in backyards and even in an almond orchard.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says the total number of strandings for the first three months of 2015 is more than 20 times the average level of strandings for the same period in the last 10 years.
Experts believe the crisis is the result of a shortage of the marine life that sea lions eat. Nursing moms have had to venture farther out to sea to find prey, leaving their pups for longer periods of time.
Thankfully, experts say they don't expect this year's record level of strandings to threaten the California sea lion population overall. NOAA estimates there are 300,000 of the animals along the Pacific Coast.
Still, rescuers have been busy responding to the strandings. There are several California centers taking the animals in for rehabilitation and release.
The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito has saved 771 sea lions this year and currently has 166 sea lions on-site. We checked in with them to find out what to do — and what
not to do — if you find a sea lion.
Laura Sherr, the center’s public relations specialist, provided this information on the three most important things to keep in mind:
You may think you can help the pup by pouring water on it, but that's something you should never do. Sea lions actually spend a lot of time out of the water and can survive there.
Also, don’t be tempted to take “just one cute
selfie” with the sea lion. Although they’re cute, you would be causing them
additional stress, because they’re not comfortable around humans. Under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, it is illegal
to injure or disturb a marine mammal — and that applies even if someone is trying to help
NOAA representatives said last
month that rescuers may not be able to get to every animal. Sherr also warns
that with the large volume of stranded pups this year, it may take time for
rescuers to arrive.
“During the current sea lion crisis, we
ask that the public please be patient after reporting a stranded animal,” she
says. “We are receiving dozens and dozens of calls each day and prioritizing
response as quickly as possible. We are assessing every reported animal to
determine whether a rescue is necessary.”
If you do call to report a stranding, there are some positive things
you can do to help a stranded marine mammal and the rescuer. They include:
watching the animal from a safe distance and keeping others away; describing
physical characteristics like size and coloring, as well as its physical
condition; looking for any obvious identification tags or markings; and
providing detailed and accurate location information.
More on Vetstreet:
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
Want to choose the best food for your
pet? Here's why you shouldn't fear
preservatives or fall for marketing…
Electronic cigarettes may be growing in
popularity, but their higher concentrations
of nicotine can poison cats and…
Are you handling your pet the right way?
Our vet shares five things your pup wishes
you knew about picking him up.
We combed through 505,270 kitten
names to determine the hottest male
and female monikers of the year.
We scoured our database of 1.1 million
dogs to find out which male and female
monikers reigned supreme this past…
The laid-back American Wirehair’s crimped, coarse coat requires almost no brushing or combing.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.