These Animals Are Abandoned By Their Mothers And Starving, But Nobody Is Talking About It

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It has long since been known that overfishing has a devastating impact on marine life and ecosystems, but the full extent of this problem became evident in 2015 when a record-breaking number of baby sea lions were orphaned by their mothers and stranded on the beaches of California.

 

sealion-starving-california-6Source: Michael Fiala/Reuters 

 

However, the problem has not yet been resolved and still persists today. Sea lions feed on small fish, such as sardines and anchovies, which are being hunted on mass and are therefore rapidly decreasing in numbers.

 

This lack of food is having a huge knock-on effect on sea lion pups. When their mothers are unable to even feed themselves, they are unable to produce vital milk for their babies, who become malnourished.

 

sealion-starving-california-1 (1)Source: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times

 

Consequently, the mother’s survival instinct pushes them to abandon their offspring in the hopes of surviving themselves and then reproducing again later on in life.

 

In other cases, mother seals don’t abandon their pups, but go on such long hunting trips to try and find food that their pups venture out on their own to scavenge, which often results in their death.

 

Geoff Shester, California Campaign Director at Oceana (a marine protection organization) described his close encounter with a seal pup last year on the HuffPost:

 

This pup was skinny, too skinny—its ribs visibly protruding. Then it became apparent. The pup was starving.[…] The extent of the food shortage was undeniable upon seeing the suffering sea lion pup.

 

sealion-starving-california-4 (1)Source: Geoff Shester 

 

While the number of starving seals on the beaches of California has declined since 2015, Sharon Melin, a wildlife biologist at the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center, explains that this does not indicate good news, and is, in fact, the complete opposite.

 

Fewer seals are abandoned by their mothers because the seal population is decreasing. She explains:

 

It’s [the sea lion population] going to decline. We don’t know how much and we don’t know exactly when we’ll be seeing that signal, but it has to.

 

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 27: In this handout image provided by SeaWorld San Diego, California sea lion pups recover at SeaWorld San Diego's Animal Rescue Center January 27, 2015 in San Diego, California. The marine park, along with other rehabilitation facilities along the California coastline, is seeing a dramatic increase in the number of ailing sea lions stranded on beaches this year. The young animals, six to eight months old, are found extremely lethargic, malnourished and dehydrated. It's not known with certainty why the region is seeing a larger number of strandings this early in 2015, however, there could be insufficient food sources for the sea lions. SeaWorld San Diego has rescued 62 marine mammals since Jan. 1, and 60 of those are California sea lions. (Photo by Mike Aguilera/SeaWorld San Diego via Getty Images)

 

It is evident that something needs to change to save these wonderful creatures.

 

To help make a difference you can add your voice to the fight and help Oceana stop irresponsible fishing and help Sea Lions by clicking here.

 

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