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>> An alarming number of sea lion pups washing ashore this year stranded and starving as ocean temperatures continue to rise. Reuters's Steve Gorman in Los Angeles explains.>> Because of the warming temperatures in the ocean, the prey species the sea lions depend on, such as anchovies, sardines, and squid are being found further and further from the island rookeries where the nursing mothers and their pups spend all their time.
And so the mother sea lions are having to go further afield in search of prey and thereby leaving their pups to their own devices for longer periods of time.>> The pups set out on their own and eventually end up stranded. More than 2,000 emaciated California sea lions, mostly pups and juveniles, have been found dead and dying along California's southern and central coast since January.
While that's only about half of last year's numbers, scientists say the drop could be an indication of a falling birth rate. The phenomenon is likely to dent the sea lion numbers estimated at 300,000 before their beach stranding started to spike in 2013.>> If these twin trends of increased alleged strandings of young sea lions and decline in their birth rates continues for, say, a decade or more, it could have dire consequences.
In the meantime, these are not a species considered endangered or threatened on the endangered species list.>> As for the pups that are rescued, they're rehabilitated and sent back into the ocean, but those efforts alone won't be able to beat back Mother Nature.