Why Are Dead Baby Sea Lions Showing Up Along California Coastal Islands?

"On May 7, Patrick Robinson took a boat out to Año Nuevo Island to survey the sea lions that come to birth on this rocky outcropping north of Monterey Bay.

The shore was littered with dead pups — babies that looked as though they’d been delivered too early and therefore were too weak and small to nurse, or had been dead at birth.

Similar observations were being made further down the coast on San Miguel Island in the Channel Islands — where massive colonies of sea lions gather every year — and as far south as Mexico.

Robinson, the director of UC Santa Cruz’s Año Nuevo Reserve, said it’s not unusual to see some dead pups this time of year. He said sick or malnourished females occasionally stop on their way south to abort. But the numbers he was seeing were alarming. And with the peak of birthing season still several weeks away, it augurs a potentially serious and worrisome situation."

Susanne Rust reports for the Los Angeles Times May 23, 2024.

Source: LA Times, 05/24/2024