Organization Seeking Help to Deal With Number of Malnourished Pups
By Jim Shilander
The Laguna Beach-based Pacific Marine Mammal Center is looking for assistance to deal with an unusually large number of sea lion pups coming ashore needing care.
A release from the organization sent out Monday indicated that the organization rescued 18 sea lion pups over the weekend, including 12 on Saturday, a single-day high for the group. The organization is currently caring for 86 animals, 84 of which are sea lions. The release noted that the majority were “severely malnourished.” Sea lions can spend as much as two to four months at the center while being nursed back to a healthy weight.
Melissa Sciacca, director of public relations for the organization, said the sea lions are being found throughout the county.
“They’ve come from San Onofre to Seal Beach, its not any one specific area,” Sciacca said.
Sciacca said there were a couple of theories as to why the organization was seeing so many more animals this year.
“There’s speculation that the mothers are having to travel longer distances for food, prematurely separating them from their pups,” Sciacca said. Another theory was that the mothers themselves were malnourished, which kept them from producing enough milk, forcing them to wean the pups earlier. “There’s no set theory. We’ll probably learn after the fact, but we’re in triage mode right now.”
Sciacca said the most important thing for people to do is not to chase sea lions back into the water if they come across them on the beach.
“They’ve come ashore to get warm and dry out,” Sciacca said.
The organization is asking anyone coming across a sea lion to call 949.494.3050 to provide information on the location of the animal. The group is looking for donations to help keep up services, as they are currently being taxed to the limit.
For information on the organization, visit www.pacificmmc.org.
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