Abandoned by their mothers who go in search of food, dozens of Southern California sea lions get stranded on the state’s beaches every year. In 2015, the animals are getting stuck in record numbers—20 times more than the average of the past decade, the National Marine Fisheries Service reported April 6.
Sardines, squid and other food are especially scarce this year, due to the area’s warming waters, which researchers say are a result of weak winds off the coast. The mother sea lions are forced to leave their pups behind for extended periods, as they venture further out into the ocean to find colder water that contains more fish.
The pups, usually around 7-8 months old, are too young to find food on their own and often end up emaciated and sickly by the time they are sent to rescue centers.