Southern California shores are becoming crowded as hundreds of sea lion pups are
washing up on the beaches, Associated Press reported. Sea lion strandings are
significantly higher than in the past, with nearly 400 pups rescued in Los
Angeles alone. San Diego, Orange, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties have also
seen high numbers of abandoned pups.
Because of overcrowding, shelters have sent pups up the coast to facilities that have more space.
Of the pups born in June, almost half have died. Typically, the statistic is less than one third. Scientists are struggling to understand what NOAA has called an "unusual mortality event."
Most of the rescued pups have weighed in about 20 pounds less than average. Scientists suspect the pups are swimming to shore, as April is usually when they first leave their mothers.
Scientists believe that a shortage in the sea lions' food supply, anchovies and sardines, or disease could be behind the overwhelming number of starving pups.
Researchers predict that more sea lions will be found and the trend will continue up the California coast.
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