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CA, USA: Pacific Marine Mammal Center declares “state of emergency” from onslaught of CA sea lion pups stranding in need of medical attention

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  • CA, USA: Pacific Marine Mammal Center declares “state of emergency” from onslaught of CA sea lion pups stranding in need of medical attention

    Good article at Wired on why this is hard to explain.

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/20...pup-stranding/

    Hundreds of Starving Baby Sea Lions Wash Ashore in Mysterious Mass Stranding

    By Nadia Drake
    03.15.13
    1:21 PM

    Rescued sea lion pups at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, California. (PMMC)
    [snip]
    Such large numbers of strandings so early in the year are unusual, and suggest the situation offshore must be pretty grim. “When we see a big uptick like this, we know it’s bad,” Melin said. “There’s something not right. We go out to the islands.”...
    http://www.pacificmmc.org/press.php
    Press Contact: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Melissa Sciacca, Pacific Marine Mammal Center
    [contact info at link.]
    18 RESCUES IN LAST 2 DAYS-PACIFIC MARINE MAMMAL CENTER
    DECLARES “STATE OF EMERGENCY” AS THE ORGANIZATION CONTINUES TO RESCUE ONSLAUGHT OF SEA LION PUPS

    Continued mass strandings of sea lion pups increases concern for rescuers as supplies and resources decrease
    Laguna Beach, CA – March 11, 2013 – Pacific Marine Mammal Center declares their organization in a “state of emergency” as it continues to see an onslaught of California sea lion pups stranding in need of medical attention. In just the last two days, PMMC has rescued 18 sea lions-12 on Saturday- the highest number of rescues in a single day ever recorded for the organization. The current patient count for PMMC is now at an alarming 86 animals, 84 of which are sea lions. “The last time we had this many sea lions this early in the year was 15 years ago,” said Director of Animal Care, Michele Hunter. “We are seriously concerned about the pace at which animals are stranding, and having the resources to keep up.” The vast majority are coming ashore severely malnourished and dehydrated, and are significantly underweight for their age. Animals coming in in this condition need intensive care to become healthy enough to release, often requiring a stay of 2-4 months at Pacific Marine Mammal Center. “Our organization functions as a hospital for marine mammals in need, and offers them the medical care necessary to get the healthy enough to return home. This requires a great deal of resources including space, funds for medicine and food, medical staff time and vehicle transportation to and from the beaches.”
    Pacific Marine Mammal Center, who is the only non-profit organization in Orange County licensed to retrieve and care for marine mammals, needs the public help in several ways during this time of crisis. “First and foremost, we need anyone who sees a seal or sea lion on the beach to back away and call us immediately. We have had a higher number of people chasing the animals back into the water this year, which is the worst thing that can happen to a sick animal. These pups are coming ashore to get warm and rest, and are hauling out of the ocean to survive. We encourage the public to keep their distance, call us to help identify the animal and location, and keep others away until we arrive. This will give us the best possible chance to assist these pups that need our help, “says Executive Director Keith Matassa. “Secondly, we are accepting donations to help our non-profit provide the care the animals need. With this high number of animals, we are going through our financial resources at an alarming rate. Every dollar counts, and anyone able to support us during this time is greatly appreciated.” Just 1 of several pens at PMMC showing volume of animals in need (photo courtesy of Keith Matassa)
    How You Can Help
    Pacific Marine Mammal Center suggests taking the following actions if a stranded marine mammal is spotted on shore:
    1. Do not approach the animal. Please keep a distance of 50 yards from the animal.
    2. Call Pacific Marine Mammal Center at 949.494.3050 to report the exact description and location of the animal.
    3. Keep others from approaching the animal, as well as any dogs.
    4. Do not attempt to push or encourage the animal back into the ocean, pour water on the animal, or feed the animal.
    5. Make a donation. PMMC is a non-profit that depends entirely on public support to respond and care for the county’s marine mammals. You can make a donation by visiting www.pacificmmc.org or calling the center at 949-494-3050 to pledge your support.
    About Pacific Marine Mammal Center
    Pacific Marine Mammal Center is a non-profit organization with a mission to rescue, medically treat, and rehabilitate marine mammals that strand along the Orange County coastline due to injury or illness; to release healthy marine mammals back to their natural habitat; and to increase public awareness of the marine environment through education and research.
    Pacific Marine Mammal Center is located in the large red barn at 20612 Laguna Canyon Road. The Center and gift shop are open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. For more information about memberships, educational programs, volunteer opportunities, or to make a donation, please call 949.494.3050 or visit Pacific Marine Mammal Center on the web at www.pacificmmc.org.
    # # #
    “‘i love myself.’
    the
    quietest.
    simplest.
    most
    powerful.
    revolution
    ever.” ---- nayyirah waheed

    Avatar: Franz Marc, Liegender Hund im Schnee 1911 (My posts are not intended as advice or professional assessments of any kind.)

  • #2
    Re: CA, USA: Pacific Marine Mammal Center declares “state of emergency” from onslaught of CA sea lion pups stranding in need of medical attention

    http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/m...alions2013.htm
    2013 California Sea Lion Unusual Mortality Event in California
    Overview

    Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (as amended), an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) has been declared for California sea lions in California from January 2013 through the present.

    Beginning in January 2013, elevated strandings of California sea lion pups have been observed in Southern California (Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties). The area with the highest reported stranding rates is currently Los Angeles County, followed by Orange County, and strandings are increasing in San Diego County.

    The increase of sea lion strandings continues and has intensified over the last few weeks. Live sea lion strandings are nearly three times higher than the historical average.
    http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/m...ings_graph.jpg
    Currently, the UME is confined to young of the year (born summer 2012) California sea lions. Consistent findings in the sea lions are emaciation and dehydration with most animals very underweight for their age. The California Marine Mammal Stranding Network continues to rescue and rehabilitate animals.

    As part of the UME investigation process, an independent team of scientists (investigation team) is being assembled to coordinate with the Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events (Working Group) to review the data collected and to determine potential next steps. The group will focus on the immediate response and develop the investigative plan.
    FAQs

    FAQs on investigation of the the ongoing California sea lion UME are available.
    http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/m...ealion2013.htm
    FAQs on the California Sea Lion UME in California

    NOAA Fisheries has declared an Unusual Mortality Event due to significant numbers of California sea lion strandings (in five counties) beginning in January 2013.
    california sea lion
    California Sea Lion
    (Zalophus californianus)
    Photo: NMFS National
    Marine Mammal Laboratory

    Q: What is an Unusual Mortality Event?

    A: An Unusual Mortality Event (UME) is defined under the Marine Mammal Protection Act as a stranding event that is unexpected, involves a significant die-off of any marine mammal population, and demands immediate response. There are seven criteria used to determine whether a mortality event is "unusual." If the Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events (Working Group), a group of marine mammal health experts, determines that an event meets one or more of the criteria, then an official Unusual Mortality Event is declared.

    Q: What is the risk to humans?

    A: Sea lions are wild animals and may bite people if approached closely. Because marine mammals and people can share diseases, the California Department of Public Health is urging the general public to stay away from marine mammals (either live or dead marine mammals) that are stranded on the beach. It is not clear at this time if there is any infectious disease risk to human health through contact with these animals.

    Q: What criteria have been met?

    A: The Working Group concluded that at least one of the seven criteria established for designation of a UME has been met. These mortalities are unusual because there is a marked increase in the magnitude or a marked change in the nature of morbidity, mortality or strandings when compared with prior records.

    Q: How widespread is this Unusual Mortality Event?

    A: Currently increased strandings of California sea lions have occurred in the following counties: Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego. However, the event may expand to northern counties over the following months.



    Q: When did the first reports of increased strandings of sea lions come in?

    A: In January, the California Marine Mammal Stranding Network started to notice an increase in California sea lions strandings in the region. The increase, especially of juvenile California sea lions has continued and intensified over the last few weeks.

    Q: What are the findings in stranded animals?

    A: At this time, the UME seems confined to California sea lion pups (born summer 2012). All live animals are currently being rescued and taken to rehabilitation centers. Consistent findings in the pups are emaciation and dehydration with most animals very underweight for their age.

    Q: Have other marine mammals been affected by this die-off event?

    A: No, stranding rates for other pinniped species have been normal for this time of year and no increase has been observed in cetacean strandings. The network will continue to monitor strandings in all species of marine mammals in the area and communicate with the wildlife rehabilitation facilities regarding changes in sea bird admissions.

    Q: What is the current California sea lion population and where are the main rookeries?

    A: The most recent Stock Assessment Report for California sea lions was issued in 2011. The current estimated total population size is 296,750 animals, with an annual increase of 5.4%. The main US rookeries are located on the Channel Islands.

    Q: What are the next steps in the investigation now that an Unusual Mortality Event has been declared?

    A: As part of the UME investigation process, an independent team of scientists (investigation team) is being assembled to coordinate with the Working Group to review the data collected and to determine potential next steps. The group will focus on the immediate response and develop the investigative plan. The response may continue over several months and the investigation may require months, or even years of data collection, analysis, and interpretation.

    Q: What additional resources are now available to pursue the investigation, since an Unusual Mortality Event has been declared?

    A: A UME declaration provides additional expertise from the Working Group (an international and multi-disciplinary team of scientists), additional partners, and access to additional funding through the National Contingency Fund. In addition this will provide a detailed investigative plan for the investigation that may include more targeted necropsies; further testing of samples for biotoxins, bacterial or viral agents; and diagnostic pathology services. Finally, this process will provide national and international scientific review of findings and interpretations.

    Q: Will you be collecting additional biological and environmental information?

    A: The Stranding Network will continue to collect and analyze samples as needed to evaluate the situation. The Working Group will decide whether additional information is needed.

    Q: When will you have some results to share?

    A: The investigative team is in process of developing an investigative plan to test samples from both live and dead animals. Blood and tissues samples will be tested for bacterial, viral and other infectious agents. Samples will also be tested for radio-nucleotides. Results will be available in 1-3 months, and you can track the progress of our investigation from our California Sea Lion UME website.

    Q: Have there been any specific instances of humans contracting a disease from the sea lions?

    A: To date, no cases of human illness have been reported from this current event.

    Q: Are there any risks to pets?

    A: Pets should always be kept away from marine mammals, particularly diseased or dead marine mammals.

    Q: How many sea lion Unusual Mortality Events have previously occurred in California?

    A: This is the sixth UME involving California sea lions that has occurred in California. Prior UMEs were declared in 1991, 1992, 1998, 2000 and 2002. Previous UMEs were caused by leptospirosis (1991), El Niño conditions (1992) and domoic acid toxicity (1998, 2000, 2002). To date, 57 UMEs have been formally declared in U.S. waters since 1991 (including the current UME).

    Q: How many marine Unusual Mortality Events have previously occurred along the West Coast of the United States?

    A: This is the 17th UME to occur along the West Coast of the U.S. All previous events involved either California sea lions, harbor seals, Guadalupe fur seals, harbor porpoises, common dolphins, gray whales, other species of cetaceans (whales and dolphins), and/or sea otters. To date, 57 UME have been formally declared in U.S. waters since 1991 (including the current UME).

    Q: Where can I find additional information on California sea lions and other Unusual Mortality Events?

    A: You can find more information on our website:

    More Information on California Sea Lions
    More Information on UMEs

    Q: What should people do if they encounter a sick sea lion on the beach?

    A: Please contact your local stranding network or local authorities to report a live or dead stranded sea lion.

    Do not touch the sea lion.
    Do not allow pets to approach the sea lion.
    Observe the animal from a safe distance of 100 yards (safe for you and the animal)
    Report sick or dead marine mammals to one of the following agencies in Southern California:
    Santa Barbara County: Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center, Santa Barbara, CA - 805-687-3255
    Ventura County: Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute, Goleta, CA - 805-567-1505
    Los Angeles County, Malibu city limits: California Wildlife Center, Malibu, CA - 310-458-9453 or 818-222-2658
    Los Angeles County, all other: Marine Animal Rescue, El Segundo, CA- 800-39-WHALE
    Orange County: Pacific Marine Mammal Center, Laguna Beach, CA - 949-494-3050
    San Diego County: SeaWorld, San Diego, CA 92109 - 800-541-7325

    Q: What should people do if they witness harassment of a sea lion on the beach?

    A: To report violations or for more information on NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement call the toll-free number: 1-800-853-1964.

    Q: What is the link, if any, of these marine mammal illness/deaths to seafood safety?

    A: State and Federal Agencies continue to conduct routine testing of seafood for consumer safety while NOAA Fisheries is working with a group of wildlife researchers to test for a wide range of possible disease factors causing this California sea lion UME. No link has been established at this time between these sea lion strandings and any potential seafood safety issues.

    Updated: March 27, 2013
    Last edited by Emily; May 16th, 2013, 10:51 AM. Reason: Displayed photo was too large - changed to link.
    “‘i love myself.’
    the
    quietest.
    simplest.
    most
    powerful.
    revolution
    ever.” ---- nayyirah waheed

    Avatar: Franz Marc, Liegender Hund im Schnee 1911 (My posts are not intended as advice or professional assessments of any kind.)

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    • #3
      Re: CA, USA: Pacific Marine Mammal Center declares “state of emergency” from onslaught of CA sea lion pups stranding in need of medical attention

      Source: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/...sea-lion-pups/


      Marine biologists investigating cause of sick sea lion pups
      By Melissa Chrise
      Published April 28, 2013
      FoxNews.com

      SAN PEDRO, Calif. – Marine biologists are at a loss as to why an unprecedented number of sea lion pups are turning up near death along Southern California's coastline.

      Since the beginning of the year, some 1,400 young California sea lions were admitted to rehabilitation centers across the state, according to Sarah Wilkin, the marine mammal stranding coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Wilkin said that figure is five times the normal rate of beached pups for this time of year...

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: CA, USA: Pacific Marine Mammal Center declares “state of emergency” from onslaught of CA sea lion pups stranding in need of medical attention

        Video about the efforts of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center to save the sea lions:

        http://www.nytimes.com/video/2013/05...sea-lions.html

        They said that the California sea lion is the only species affected, and only this particular age range, (at the time of weaning), is affected. There is still no clue as to why this happened.
        “‘i love myself.’
        the
        quietest.
        simplest.
        most
        powerful.
        revolution
        ever.” ---- nayyirah waheed

        Avatar: Franz Marc, Liegender Hund im Schnee 1911 (My posts are not intended as advice or professional assessments of any kind.)

        Comment

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