From Jan. 1 to Mar. 31, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed more than 1,000 ailing sea lion pups have washed ashore in Southern California. This has been seven times the number of sea lions that have beached themselves in San Diego this year compared to the same time period last year.
Researchers and the general public are worried about the situation and have expedited the investigation. Some news outlets reported that radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster back in March 2011 has caused the massive deaths of sea lions. However, just last week, more evidence led to the conclusion that starvation and dehydration is likely the cause, not radiation. The reason for the lack of food source, however, is still unknown. Their food prey has moved to another location in the ocean and the sea lion pups just can’t get to it. Experts believe pups are being affected in greater numbers than adult sea lions because they are limited in how far they can travel along with being unfamiliar with the environment.
People should not touch or contact beached sea lions since they are wild animals. Local beach goers should report stranded sea lions to authorities such as SeaWorld’s animal rescue team in San Diego.
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