Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Endangered Fur Seals Dying at Alarming Rate Along California Coast

Animals

The threatened Guadalupe fur seal is getting stranded on California’s coastline in record numbers, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Of the 80 fur seals, 42 were found dead and only 16 of the 38 found alive survived. Photo credit: Shutterstock

The marine mammals typically spend their time off Mexico’s coast, but at least 80 of the pinnipeds have ended up on California’s shore emaciated, dehydrated or dead. That’s a rate eight times higher than what’s documented in a typical year.

Of the 80 fur seals, 42 were found dead and only 16 of the 38 found alive survived.

The unprecedented occurrence has led NOAA to declare an unusual mortality event for the seals, meaning its scientists will devote more time to studying the species and more samples from rescued animals will be evaluated.

The fur seal’s struggles come during the same year that a record 3,500 California sea lions have washed ashore along California’s coast.

Scientists think the unusually warm waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean could be affecting the health of marine mammals. The large swath of unseasonably hot water is wreaking havoc on everything from Washington’s crabs to Oregon’s algae and it could be pushing fish species that seals and sea lions rely on as food sources farther north than the animals can travel.

At the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, California, the rescue facility took in four Guadalupe fur seals between January and May. Executive Director Keith Matassa says there haven’t been any reports since then.

“That’s actually more than we typically rescue in a year anyway,” he said and 2015 has been a record year for overall marine mammal recoveries for the facility. “Look at our averages from 1998 to 2014 and we rescue about 188 sea lions and elephant seals a year. For 2015, we’re already at 535 rescues.”

Right now, it’s the slow season. Adult seals and sea lions are out at their rookeries, taking care of their newborn pups, most of which were born in June and July. At about six months old, the pups start to venture out on their own and that’s when the reports start flooding in.

“Hopefully they wait until November or December—when they’re a little more capable of taking care of themselves,” Matassa said.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Supermoon Sparked Rhino Killing Spree as Poaching Numbers Skyrocket

700 Beehives Hang Off This Rocky Cliff to Boost Dwindling Bee Populations

World’s Largest Wildlife Corridor to Be Built in California

WATCH: Kayaking Duo Struck by Humpback Whale

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Residents plant mangroves on the coast of West Aceh District in Indonesia on Feb. 21, 2020. Mangroves play a crucial role in stabilizing the coastline, providing protection from storms, waves and tidal erosion. Dekyon Eon / Opn Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mangroves play a vital role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Mangrove forests are tremendous assets in the fight to stem the climate crisis. They store more carbon than a rainforest of the same size.

Read More Show Less
UN World Oceans Day is usually an invite-only affair at the UN headquarters in New York, but this year anyone can join in by following the live stream on the UNWOD website from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. https://unworldoceansday.org/

Monday is World Oceans Day, but how can you celebrate our blue planet while social distancing?

Read More Show Less
Cryptococcus yeasts (pictured), including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas

From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.

Read More Show Less
National Trails Day 2020 is now titled In Solidarity, AHS Suspends Promotion of National Trails Day 2020. The American Hiking Society is seeking to amplify Black voices in the outdoor community and advocate for equal access to the outdoors. Klaus Vedfelt / DigitalVision / Getty Images

This Saturday, June 6, marks National Trails Day, an annual celebration of the remarkable recreational, scenic and hiking trails that crisscross parks nationwide. The event, which started in 1993, honors the National Trail System and calls for volunteers to help with trail maintenance in parks across the country.

Read More Show Less
Indigenous people from the Parque das Tribos community mourn the death of Chief Messias of the Kokama tribe from Covid-19, in Manaus, Brazil, on May 14, 2020. MICHAEL DANTAS / AFP / Getty Images

By John Letzing

This past Wednesday, when some previously hard-hit countries were able to register daily COVID-19 infections in the single digits, the Navajo Nation – a 71,000 square-kilometer (27,000-square-mile) expanse of the western US – reported 54 new cases of what's referred to locally as "Dikos Ntsaaígíí-19."

Read More Show Less
World Environment Day was put into motion almost fifty years ago by the United Nations as a response to a multitude of environmental threats. RicardoImagen / Getty Images

It's a different kind of World Environment Day this year. In prior years, it might have been enough to plant a tree, spend some extra time in the garden, or teach kids the importance of recycling. This year we have heavier tasks at hand. It's been months since we've been able to spend sufficient time outside, and as we lustfully watch the beauty of a new spring through our kitchen's glass windows, we have to decide how we'll interact with the natural world on our release, and how we can prevent, or be equipped to handle, future threats against our wellbeing.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Experts are worried that COVID-19, a primarily respiratory and airway disease, could have permanent effects on lungs, inhibiting the ability for divers to continue diving. Tiffany Duong / Ocean Rebels

Scuba divers around the world are holding their metaphorical breath to see if a coronavirus infection affects the ability to dive.

Read More Show Less