Like more than 1,450 other sea lions that have washed up on California beaches this year, in what animal experts call a growing crisis for the animal, this 8-month-old pup was starving, stranded and hundreds of miles from a mother who still needed to nurse him and teach him to hunt and feed. Ribs jutted from his velveteen coat.
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 . . .
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.
Many of the pups are leaving the Channel Islands, an eight-island chain off the Southern California coast, in a desperate search for food. But they are too young to travel far, dive deep or truly hunt on their own, scientists said. (Read more from “Starving Sea Lions Washing Ashore by the Hundreds in California” HERE)