Some 1,450 sea lions have washed up on California beaches this year, in what animal experts call a growing crisis for the animal. In the New York Times, the story of one 8-month-old pup found "starving, stranded and hundreds of miles from a mother who still needed to nurse him and teach him to hunt and feed."
In February, 2015, California animal rescuers saved 1,100 sea lions. They report five times more sea lion rescues than normal so far this year.
What's to blame? Experts blame rising water temperatures, due to global climate change.
The pup had lain on the beach for hours, becoming the target of an aggressive dog before managing to wriggle onto the deck of a million-dollar oceanfront home, where the owner shielded him with an umbrella and called animal control. In came Ms. Leeds, an animal-care expert at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, which like other California rescue centers is being inundated with calls about lost, emaciated sea lions.
"It's getting crazy," she said.
Experts suspect that unusually warm waters are driving fish and other food away from the coastal islands where sea lions breed and wean their young. As the mothers spend time away from the islands hunting for food, hundreds of starving pups are swimming away from home and flopping ashore from San Diego to San Francisco.
"Starving Sea Lions Washing Ashore by the Hundreds in California" [nytimes.com]
Here's the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, which could use your support to help more of these little guys.