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Have you ever wondered if it's possible to really make a difference on behalf of the oceans, and to really do something to help the incredible animals that live there? Well the team here at Dolphin Connection want you to know that there is currently an excellent opportunity at hand! An overwhelming number of very malnourished sea lion pups are showing up on the California coastline. With nearly 1,000 pups to care for, the rescue teams and stranding centers are overwhelmed. Their resources are stretched thin and they need our help.
So please join Dolphin Connection and all of the members of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums in offering support and donations to these hard working professionals as they strive to save these starving pups. You can donate directly to the National Marine Mammal Foundation (www.nmmf.org) or to any of these stranding centers: Marine Mammal Care Center, San Pedro. (www.marinemammalcare.org); Pacific Marine Mammal Center, Laguna Beach (www.pacificmmc.org); Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute, Santa Barbara (www.cimwi.org); or The Marine Mammal Center, Sausalito (www.marinemammalcenter.org).
Please also consider supporting our amazing colleagues at SeaWorld San Diego, who are providing enormous support to this effort. Since January 1, they have rescued 350 sea lion pups, and currently have 207 in rehabilitation. What an incredible effort! (http://seaworldparks.com/en/seaworld-sandiego/animals/animal-rescue/)
You may remember that back in January of 2013, a very similar event took place. That event was deemed as a UME, or an unusual mortality event. What is that? According to the NOAA Fisheries, Office of Protected Resources website, a UME is defined as "a stranding that is unexpected; involves a significant die-off of any marine mammal population; and demands immediate response." Understanding these events is important because they can serve as indicators of ocean health, giving insight into larger environmental issues which may also have implications for human health and welfare.
But why are these sea lion pups stranding in California? We really don't know, but studies indicate that there is a lack of sardines in the ocean, which scientists believe is one of the most valuable food sources for nursing mother sea lions and for newly-weaned sea lion pups. Even though other fish are available, it appears they are not providing the proper nutrition. A lack of high quality fish appears to be the problem.
To help the pups, our colleagues in California are working overtime, and with great results. During the 2013 event, over 50% of the pups survived and were released back into the ocean. Many were outfitted with satellite tags, so that they could be monitored. Tracking data shows that most survived following their release.
We hope you will join us in supporting the incredible efforts to save the sea lion pups! And the next time you visit Dolphin Connection at Hawks Cay Resort on your vacation in the fabulous Florida Keys, we hope you can smile, knowing that our reach to inspire conservation and protect our oceans goes far beyond our own beautiful tropical lagoon.