Today came with sad news for the marine wildlife, as many seal pups are stranded in Northern California. They have turned up on the shores, weak and underfed. It has been reported that this is one in a string of events that decimated oceanic animals on the coast of California this year. The alarming part is that their number is much bigger than the previous record in 2006, of 31 seal pups.
As Press Democrat The Santa Rosa reported last Saturday, many northern seal pups were found stranded on the beaches, emaciated and newly weaned. Apparently their weights are a little over the normal weight of such animals at birth. Marin Headlands, a nonprofit center, has reportedly taken 85 seals last Friday.
Upon further inspection, veterinarians have concluded that the pups are 4 to 5 months old. Most of them were found on the shores of San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz counties, but another two were stranded in Marin County and one more in Mendocino County. Furthermore, there are still pups in need of rescue on the Sonoma Coast.
But why is this phenomenon happening? According to scientists, the change of temperatures which can also be linked to the El Niño weather occurrence seems to be the one to blame. Jeff Boehm, the Marine Mammal Center executive director, stated that warm waters prevent the rising of colder ones, which bring fish into the seals territory.
As a result, the underfed mother seals need to spend more time away from their pups in order to find food, and the babies are left to their own devices, hungry and alone.
These seals normally live in the Pacific Ocean and are very rarely found on the shores. It is likely that the pups were born on the Farallon Islands, which are 30 miles away from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Another theory of their birthplace points towards Channel Islands, which are found in Southern California.
This has been categorized as an event of unusual mortality, along with the one of California sea lions.
At the moment, Guadalupe fur seals, which are endangered, are being rehabilitated by wildlife rescue crews.
The fact that many seal pups are stranded in Northern California demonstrates that this is only one of the many consequences of global warming and climate change. It is also a warning sign that something must be done for the conservation of animal species and nature itself.
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