In the parlance of zoology, they’re called Zalophus Californianus, but you probably know them better as California sea lions. And there are thousands of these marine mammals dwelling along the Southern California coastline, announcing their presence with their characteristic barking and cavorting in the water. But in recent months, record numbers of young California sea lions have been found sick and malnourished in local waters, and scientists don’t know why it’s happening. Wildlife officials are now calling it an “unusual mortality event.” Sharon Melin, a wildlife biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service talked to Tess Vigeland on Which Way, LA? about what this means.
(More photos and audio of KCRW’s visit to the center below.)
If the sea lions are rescued between Long Beach and Malibu, they’re often taken to the Marine Mammal Rescue Center in San Pedro. The Center specializes in nursing sick seals back to good health, when they can then be returned to the wild. Treating ill seals involves veterinary expertise in marine mammal physiology , a little TLC, and lots and lots of fish, especially as sick seals get better and their appetites return in full force.
KCRW visited the Marine Mammal Rescue Center: