Target: SeaWorld San Diego, the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, the Pacific Marine Mammal Care Center in Laguna Beach, and the Marine Mammal Center of Sausalito
Goal: Commend staff and volunteers for rescuing and rehabilitating large influxes of stranded California sea lions
Normally gregarious, lively, and robust when they are healthy, sea lions exhibit the severity of their illnesses or injuries when they beach themselves alone, emaciated and weak. Since January, regional rescue and rehabilitation centers for marine mammals have received over 1,500 intakes of starving California sea lions, mostly pups. The volunteers and staff of facilities such as SeaWorld San Diego and several Southern California marine mammal care centers have stepped up to the plate with marvelous patience, compassion, and dedication to help nourish these charismatic pinnipeds back to health.
The National Marine Fisheries Service has declared the California sea lion strandings an unusual mortality event. Biologists are still investigating the exact cause, but a probable hypothesis points to a depleted food source. California sea lions feed on a diet of pelagic fish, such as sardines and anchovies. Many of the stranded sea lions found on the coasts of Southern California were pups who had been malnourished from premature maternal separation. Malnourished mothers are likely to abandon their young pups who are born at a low body weight and have to be weaned prematurely because the hungry and energetically drained moms must return to sea to find sustenance.
California sea lions have encountered much difficulty locating their typical food source on their own, but organizations such as the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, the Pacific Marine Mammal Care Center in Laguna Beach, and the Marine Mammal Center of Sausalito have given their helping hands to flippered friends. These wildlife care centers rely on a large force of volunteers who have worked extra long hours providing round the clock care to this year’s influx of emaciated sea lion patients. The organizations have also encouraged donations of fish, medical supplies, and other equipment needed at the facilities for the care of these animals.
SeaWorld San Diego rescued about a dozen sea lions a day at the height of the stranding event. With a dedicated animal care team, they have been able to rehabilitate and release many of them back into the ocean in an area with plentiful fish. Each sea lion patient is carefully monitored during the rehabilitation process, which includes tracking weights, noting overall health, checking for normal behavior, and encouraging them to forage. Ninety percent of the sea lions taken in by SeaWorld have successfully transitioned from critical care tube feeding to eating on their own, a major step for animals graduating from a stage of the rehabilitation process, bringing them closer to being ready for release.
Sign this petition to commend the compassionate staff and volunteer sea lion rehabilitators who have worked their heaviest caseload in years.
Dear SeaWorld San Diego, the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, the Pacific Marine Mammal Care Center in Laguna Beach, and the Marine Mammal Center of Sausalito,
I would like to express my gratitude and admiration of your organizations for rescuing stranded sea lions in Southern California. Your hard work has saved the lives of many animals who otherwise would have wasted away in distress and physical discomfort.
The unique challenges of understanding marine mammal health and behavior, the tremendous expenses of providing marine mammals with the appropriate diet, the time and patience it takes to properly administer medication and food, and the task of providing appropriate enclosures for hundreds of patients did not stand in the way of the humane objective to treat each patient with the best care possible. Your many successful releases and the generosity you have inspired in your donors speak volumes for the talent and dedication of your outstanding rehabilitators.
Your service in providing care to marine wildlife in need is selfless, compassionate, and greatly appreciated by the community. Thank you for stepping up when ill and orphaned animals needed you most.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ingrid Overgard via Marine Mammal Center