The National Aquarium and its Animal Care and Rescue Center will be closed through April 26 in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). CLICK HERE for more information.

Animal Rescue Update: California Field Work

Our Animal Rescue team has been out in California responding to a surge of emaciated sea lion pups that have stranded along the West Coast.

Published April 07, 2016

california sea lion

This ongoing stranding, which has been declared a Unusual Mortality Event (UME) by the federal government, is a result of the change in availability of food sources for sea lions, including Pacific sardines, northern anchovies, rockfish and squid. 

The availability of prey is very important for nursing sea lion mothers and for the pups as they start to wean and learn how to forage on their own. Changes in sea surface temperature can have significant impacts throughout the food web, and historically, El Niño years have resulted in high numbers of marine mammal strandings on the West Coast. Warmer water conditions during El Niño years often result in a lower abundance or redistribution of sea lion prey, making them less available to sea lions.

Members of the marine mammal stranding and rehabilitation network, like the National Aquarium, are working together in a collaborative manner to assist California centers. Aquarium staff were recently deployed to the Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur to help care for over 100 sea lions and seals that were in rehabilitation. 

sea lion stranding

During the week deployment, our staff worked alongside staff from the Virginia Aquarium and the Marine Mammal Care Center to prepare daily diets, feed and care for animals, assist with intakes and clean rehab enclosures. Additional staff from the National Aquarium will be deployed in the coming weeks. 

Other facilities are supporting the event from an administrative perspective, including drafting action & contingency plans, securing emergency funding, ordering supplies, and coordinating travel plans for deployed staff. 

If you’re interested in learning more about this UME, click here

Stay tuned for more updates! 

Previous Post

Featured Stories

Calypso header Remembering Calypso

We’re looking back at Calypso’s incredible life and reflecting on the many ways she impacted the lives of those who knew her best.

Read the full story

octo header No Hands? No Problem: Tool Use Among Aquatic Animals

Aquatic animals are resourceful—just like humans, when they can’t solve a problem, they can look to the world around them ... and fashion tools!  

Read the full story

Related Stories

Animal Rescue Update: Cold-Stunned Turtles

Published March 06, 2020

Animal Update: McHenry the Loggerhead Ready for Release

Published October 25, 2018