From 2013 to 2017, an unusually high number of malnourished California sea lion pups washed up on Southern California beaches. The dire situation led NOAA to declare an unusual mortality event (UME). NMMF animal care experts provided support to Southern California marine mammal rescue facilities, as they faced an elevated number of patients. NMMF biologists and veterinarians supported NOAA’s work to determine the specific cause of the UME. Scientists currently believe that changes in prey availability, especially sardines, an important nutritional source for nursing mother sea lions, led to the increased prevalence of starving, stranded, and dead young animals.

Health assessment and satellite tracking to inform conservation management of threatened Peruvian Fur Seals (Arctocephalus australis)

This past year’s field work trip was performed in November, 2015. Dr. Jenny Meegan, Veterinarian with the National Marine Mammal Foundation traveled to the Punta San Juan marine protected area in Peru with research team members from the Chicago Zoological Society and other conservation partners. During this field work effort, the team successfully performed in- depth health assessments on 8 female Peruvian fur seals.