Sea lions in dire straits

Hundreds of So-Cal sea lion pups starving, emaciated

Southern California sea lions are mysteriously turning up on shore sick and emaciated in record numbers.

In Los Angeles County, 400 pups have been stranded since the beginning of last year, with hundreds more reported in San Diego, Orange and Santa Barbara counties, according to the Los Angeles Times. Wildlife shelters like the San Pedro Marine Mammal Center—which is currently treating about 170 sick sea lion pups—have been overwhelmed.

Perhaps most bizarre, the stranded pups—most of which were born over the summer and are between 6 and 8 months old—would normally be with their mothers. Some experts have suggested the mothers have ventured farther out to sea than usual in search of food, leaving the pups to fend for themselves.

“They’re just not capable at this age,” said Sharon Melin of the National Marine Fisheries Service. “They can’t dive deep; they’re not very efficient swimmers.”