100 Sick Sea Lions In California; What's The Cause Of Their Illness?

By Staff Reporter on February 12, 2013 1:04 PM EST

sealioncolony
Approximately 100 sick sea lions have been admitted to California's Marine Mammal Care Center to treat an illness this winter. (Photo: Creative Commons)

The Marine Mammal Care Center of San Pedro, L.A., has reported that approximately 100 malnourished and dehydrated sea lion pups were discovered on the beach and brought to a Los Angeles animal care facility so far this year. More continue to come in every day.

"They're here because they're not getting the nutrition that they need, of they've succumbed to some illness," said Marine Mammal Care Center director Dave Bard. "We have a lot of cases for a very short time."

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The Marine Mammal Care Center is a community near the region's massive ports and harbor.

While it's common for sea lion pups to fall ill during the winter, the growing concern for animal doctors are the sheer quantity of animals that require aid. In previous years, the average admission of ill sea lions are "in the teens." The latest developments are an exponential jump and the care center is simply struggling to cope with the spike in the number of cases.

A challenging development for the animal specialists, it is not clear why the animals are becoming sick. According to Bard, there is no pattern to the sea lions' symptoms.

"I don't know what's causing the increased number now," Bard said. "We really don't know."

The sea lions suffer from a number of natural illnesses during the winter but are also facing threats including winter fishing gear, and injuries from debris in the ocean. Finally, Bard also raised the possibility that the increase in illnesses may also indicate an increase in the sea lion pups population.

To learn more about the winter's anomaly, the center is conducting blood tests on all sea lions as they are admitted. Data has yet to indicate a common trend.

Be sure to see the video below.

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