Sea lion ‘Unusual Mortality Event’ in California April 2013. After several weeks of unusually high levels of sea lion strandings and high numbers of dead sea lions washing up on the beaches of Southern California, the local authorities have declared ‘An unusual mortality event’ (UME).
Beginning in January 2013, increased strandings of California sea lion pups have been observed in Southern California (Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties). The area with the highest reported stranding rates is currently Los Angeles County, followed by Orange County, and strandings are increasing in San Diego County.
Sea Lions in Rehab Credit: Pacific Marine Mammal Center
300% increase The increase of sea lion strandings continues and has intensified over the last few weeks. Live sea lion strandings are nearly three times higher than the historical average.
Emaciation and dehydration Currently, the UME is confined to young of the year (born summer 2012) California sea lions. Consistent findings in the sea lions are emaciation and dehydration with most animals very underweight for their age. The California Marine Mammal Stranding Network continues to rescue and rehabilitate animals.
As part of the UME investigation process, an independent team of scientists (investigation team) is being assembled to coordinate with the Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events (Working Group) to review the data collected and to determine potential next steps. The group will focus on the immediate response and develop the investigative plan.