Save Starving Sea Lions on the Coast of California


Target: Jerry Brown, California Governor

Goal: Invest in research to find root causes of harm to sea lions, and support conservation and rehabilitation efforts for sea lion welfare.

The number of baby sea lions that washed up on California’s beaches in 2015 – over 3,000, according to rescuers – was easily 15 times more than had been seen in the past. Rehabilitation efforts can scarcely keep up with the number of sickly sea lion pups needing care. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expect this trend to continue for quite some time.

Although the pups are sick, no one disease is to blame for this phenomenon. The main problem, it seems, is simply a lack of food – though what’s causing this food shortage is a little less clear. We recently had an El Niño year, which means that a massive warm patch of water has moved eastward across the Pacific Ocean against the prevailing wind direction. El Niño typically brings heavy rains to the western coasts of Peru, Mexico, and California (away from countries in the western pacific, like Indonesia, where heavy rainfall is the norm), and also levels out this warm water pool, creating a sort of barrier above the nutrient-rich cooler waters below. This has led to collapse of fisheries in the past, and it may be largely to blame for the sea lion food shortage this year. Mothers have had to swim farther and dive deeper to feed themselves so that they can provide milk for their young, and it has not been enough for the pups, which time and again have washed ashore, emaciated and starving.

El Niño has certainly exacerbated the problem of late, but sea lion pups were washing up in record numbers in 2015 even before El Niño hit. To help the sea lions, we need to better understand the root causes of their food shortages. Tell California Governor Jerry Brown that this is a problem the state must address as quickly as possible. He should invest in research to illuminate the causes of this crisis, and support whatever relief measures may be necessary.


Dear Governor Brown,

As I’m sure you are aware, sea lion pups have been washing ashore on California beaches in unprecedented numbers this year and last. The pups are emaciated, starving, and dehydrated, and it is not yet clear what exactly is causing the food shortages that lead them to this state. El Niño may certainly have been a contributor this past year, but the sea lions were already in trouble before El Niño hit.

California citizens are no doubt concerned that so many suffering baby sea lions have been washing up on their coastline, and it should be your duty as Governor to address this issue. You must invest in research to uncover the root causes of the sea lion food crisis, and do everything in your power to support conservation efforts that can stabilize this marine web that is currently in collapse.

I hope you will see the severity of this issue, and act quickly to protect the sea lions knocking tragically upon the doors of your beautiful state.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: mnwinchester32

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  1. Save them please We eat their food

  2. Wendy Morrison says:

    NO animals should ever starve to death!!!

  3. Bev Woodburn says:

    Please save these precious Sea Lions from starvation?
    And the lack of food for these precious Sea Lions is due to the over fishing by the rotten human species.

    • humans do have to eat and if you say go vegan then we eat the food of the herbivores

      • Actually we do not, as we raise that food as opposed to going out and snatching it from the mouths of what I assume you are meaning wild herbivores such as deer, not domesticated cows and such. You could make the argument that land used for raising that food takes it away from wild herbivores, and in that respect you would be correct. However, the problems with the fishing industry are fish farms that spread diseases that contaminate wild stocks, methods of harvesting that kill other sea life, and overly large quotas, which cause overfishing. All of those are destroying the industry and our marine environment, and contributing to the poor sea lions’ predicament.

        • Steve Strelich says:

          Regarding aquaculture (fish farming) you are correct. As well as spreading diseases the stock, which is not a native species can escape and interfere w native populations. On top of this the U.S. government has ok’d a genetically modified salmon for use in aquaculture which poses an even greater threat to native stocks. Search for “frankenfish” for more info on that. As for overly large quotas not really. The people at the fish and game are doing a pretty good job of staying on top of changes fish stock populations and modifying regulations and quotas accordingly. And while it’s true that some fishing methods can be indiscriminate, longline, draging and sometimes gilneting, most of the fishing industry is purse seining, at least in regards to the main fisheries left on the west coast; squid, sardine, anchovies. Catching species other than what your targeting means more work which equals more time spent trying to seperate the catch, which equals less catching what your trying ro catch. Nothing’s perfect but the industry and regulations are changing at least here in the u.s. The sport industry is a lite bit of a differant story. They take as much or more than the commercial industry but are more indiscriminate. Decades of toxic waste dumping (ddt) of the coast had probably a more catastrophimpact on fish populations than fishing ever did.

    • Steve Strelich says:

      You have no idea what you are talking about.

  4. Barbara Griffith says:

    Due to warming sea water a lot of the fish that the young sea lions are supposed to eat are moving to colder waters which is causing the mothers to have to forage further away from their young. Under normal conditions the mothers would be with their young instead of going so far to find food so they are forced leave them behind to fend for themselves. The mothers don’t come back because if they did they in turn would also starve. The food that all sea lions eat such as sardines, anchovies, salmon, pompano and mackerel are all cold water fish if I’m not mistaken. We eat and fish for all of the listed fish so I don’t really know just what the Governor can do, he can’t shut the fishing industry down.

    • He and others in power can help regulate it so that not such huge quotas are allowed. Government owned fishing businesses are the reason for the collapse of small close to shore fishing industries in too many countries, plus the indiscriminate killing of other sea life besides fish, because of their methods of harvesting.

    • Steve Strelich says:

      Currently the sardine fishery is shut down, I don’t think there is much shortage of mackerel, there’s no salmon around here (not enough to support a sea lion population anyway)

  5. Yes, fishing…and climate change, temporary (hopefully not permanent). Warmer-than-normal water thought to be pushing prime sea lion foods – market squid, anchovies and sardines – further north, forcing mothers to abandon their pups longer in search of sustenance. The ocean, which in years past full with food, is different, emptier, than before; mothers forced to dive deeper and swim farther, returning with not much milk to offer. Something wrong out there in the wild. The ecosystem has changed. As environmental conditions have changed, is said that sardine and anchovy populations have suffered or even collapsed…and FISHING exacerbating the problem.

  6. Amanda Ashworth says:

    How is the situation in 2016. Does anyone know?? PLEASE..

  7. Alice Cheang says:

    Poor seals, both mothers and babies. California, please do something to help these sweet mammals.

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