Sea Lions Desperate For Nourishment Dying Off In Alarming Numbers On California Coast

It’s 7:30 a.m. at the Marine Mammal Center, and the sea lion pups are famished. For the past five weeks, volunteers have been desperately trying to nurse back to health more than a hundred sea lions found stranded along the state’s beaches in a mystery that’s threatening one of California’s most lovable sea creatures. Three times or more each day, the volunteers snake tubes filled with pureed herring and fish oil down emaciated pups’ esophagi to deliver a chicken soup of the sea directly into these sickly mammals’ stomachs. Covering the pups’ eyes with a towel does little to stop them from locking their jaws. “It’s good when they’re averse to it,” said volunteer Sonny Knaub, 26. “We want to keep them wild.” Each day, dog crates with sick sea lions arrive here and at four other locations from San Luis Obispo to Fort Bragg in what’s alarmingly become a third year of massive sea lion pup die-offs. And if the trend continues, marine biologists warn, it could deplete an entire generation of California sea lions.

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