This year, many Guadalupe fur seals were found ill or dead on the California coast, making the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration claim that the event is unusual for this kind of animals.
The officials declared that 80 such seals have been discovered along the coast, which represents 8 times more than usual. 42 of them were found dead. Those who were picked up alive were extremely thin, as a consequence of starvation. Only 16 of them could be saved and freed back into the ocean.
“They’re young animals, and they’re coming in starving to death,” declared Justin Viezbicke, a NOAA member.
The officials claimed that a great number of these animals were cubs born last year. Starting from 1984 until 2014, NOAA found approximately 12 marooned seals each year, declared Viezbicke during a conference.
Guadalupe fur seals are an endangered species living on Mexico’s Guadalupe Island off the coast of Baja California. Because of their confined geographic area, they couldn’t have been studied very much, but officials calculated a population of about 15,000 seals.
Scientists believe that these strandings represent a consequence of warmer waters in the Pacific Ocean, which affected the marine life, as well as the fishing industry.
Toby Garfield, who closely monitors this event, believes the change in the water temperature affected the fish species seals would eat. He added that the fish may have moved in the North in order to stay away from warmer waters. They don’t know about geographic limits; they just search good water conditions.
But the situation does not seem to improve, as Garfield announced that the warmer waters are going to remain like this for another couple of months. In addition, the El Nino event is expected to happen this winter, so things may get even worse for the marine life.
In 2007, NOAA highlighted the existence of this abnormal event in Oregon and Washington. The species was endangered by excessive hunting for commercial purposes in the 1800s.
In 2013, NOAA also highlighted an abnormal mortality for sea lions in California, but this year things got back to normal.
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