"They're coming in starving and in record numbers. Nutrition is their biggest challenge,” David Bard, operations director at the Marine Mammal Care Center, told the Daily Breeze.
Now staff at the center and its Laguna Beach counterpart the Pacific Marine Mammal Center find themselves seeking help to handle the increase in dehydrated, malnourished sea lion pups.
There are many theories as to what is causing so many ill young sea lions, but overall, scientists are stumped.
“We currently do not know the reasons for the poor condition of California sea lion pups,” Sharon Melin, research biologist for NOAA in Seattle told SoCalWild.
It could be a few factors or a combination. “Starving pups at this time of year usually means that the mothers are having trouble finding enough food to support the energetic cost of lactation,” says Melin. “It could also mean that mothers are dying from disease…but we do not have evidence that suggests this is occurring.”
You can also donate to local marine mammal rescue groups such as the California Wildlife Center, who have rescued over 100 sea lions so far in 2013, many of which are then transported to the Marine Mammal Care Center.