Approximately 100 sea lion pups are sick in Los Angeles. The creatures are being sent to a rehabilitation center for treatment of dehydration and malnutrition. Just two months into 2013, 90 sea lion pups have wound up at an L.A. area animal care facility – with more arriving every day.
While it is common for some young sea lions to become ill during the winter months, the increase in sick pups is uncommon, NBC News notes. The number of malnourished or dehydrated pups admitted to the facility is expected to hit at least 100 by the end of the week. The typical number of sea lion pups admitted to the Marine Mammal Care Center by this point in February is usually in “the teens.”
Dave Bard, director of the San Pedro Marine Mammal Care Center, had this to say about the sick sea lions:
“We have a lot of cases for a very short time. I don’t know what’s causing the increased number now. We really don’t know. They’re here because they’re not getting the nutrition they need, or they’ve succumbed to some illness.
There is reportedly not a clear pattern to the illnesses plaguing the pups. Typical ailments suffered by sea lions during the winter include wounds from fishing gear or ocean debris. The cause for the dehydration and malnutrition could have something to do with a population increase among the California sea lion population.
Blood tests are being conducted on all the sick sea lion pups upon intake. So far, the test results have not shown any consistent illness trends. The mammal rehabilitation center is spreading the word about donation needed to care for the large number of sick sea lions, LA Observed notes.