Save Starving Sea Lions on the Coast of California

Target: Jerry Brown, California Governor

Goal: Invest in research to find root causes of harm to sea lions, and support conservation and rehabilitation efforts for sea lion welfare.

The number of baby sea lions that washed up on California’s beaches in 2015 – over 3,000, according to rescuers – was easily 15 times more than had been seen in the past. Rehabilitation efforts can scarcely keep up with the number of sickly sea lion pups needing care. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expect this trend to continue for quite some time.

Although the pups are sick, no one disease is to blame for this phenomenon. The main problem, it seems, is simply a lack of food – though what’s causing this food shortage is a little less clear. We recently had an El Niño year, which means that a massive warm patch of water has moved eastward across the Pacific Ocean against the prevailing wind direction. El Niño typically brings heavy rains to the western coasts of Peru, Mexico, and California (away from countries in the western pacific, like Indonesia, where heavy rainfall is the norm), and also levels out this warm water pool, creating a sort of barrier above the nutrient-rich cooler waters below. This has led to collapse of fisheries in the past, and it may be largely to blame for the sea lion food shortage this year. Mothers have had to swim farther and dive deeper to feed themselves so that they can provide milk for their young, and it has not been enough for the pups, which time and again have washed ashore, emaciated and starving.

El Niño has certainly exacerbated the problem of late, but sea lion pups were washing up in record numbers in 2015 even before El Niño hit. To help the sea lions, we need to better understand the root causes of their food shortages. Tell California Governor Jerry Brown that this is a problem the state must address as quickly as possible. He should invest in research to illuminate the causes of this crisis, and support whatever relief measures may be necessary.


Dear Governor Brown,

As I’m sure you are aware, sea lion pups have been washing ashore on California beaches in unprecedented numbers this year and last. The pups are emaciated, starving, and dehydrated, and it is not yet clear what exactly is causing the food shortages that lead them to this state. El Niño may certainly have been a contributor this past year, but the sea lions were already in trouble before El Niño hit.

California citizens are no doubt concerned that so many suffering baby sea lions have been washing up on their coastline, and it should be your duty as Governor to address this issue. You must invest in research to uncover the root causes of the sea lion food crisis, and do everything in your power to support conservation efforts that can stabilize this marine web that is currently in collapse.

I hope you will see the severity of this issue, and act quickly to protect the sea lions knocking tragically upon the doors of your beautiful state.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: mnwinchester32

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One Comment

  1. must help the great sea lions to help them recover.

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