‘Rubbish’ is the name of the adorable sea lion pup captured above in the image from KTVU’s Twitter feed. He was rescued last week after wandering the streets of San Francisco. This is not the first time The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, has rescued the pup. In March, they discovered him in Santa Barbara suffering from pneumonia and malnourishment. They nursed him to health and then released him at Point Reyes National Seashore. Last Thursday, the wandering pup made his way to San Francisco’s Marina District and then hid under a car on the corner of Marina Blvd and Divisadero Street, eluding rescue for 30 minutes, CBS San Francisco reports. Eventually trained rescuers scooped him up in a net and transported him back in a carrier to the rescue center in Marin Headlands, where they will “fatten him up” again. That’s the good news. The bad news? Rubbish’s adventures point to a troubling new trend, and climate change may be the culprit.
“Rubbish is one of thousands of California sea lion pups that have stranded along the coast of California in 2015,” according to a Center press release. Warmer water along the west coast are said to have diminished food stocks, making it more difficult for nursing sea lion mothers to feed their pups. Fortunately, fish stocks north of San Francisco are increasing, according to ocean experts, so “the Center is confident that the majority of the animals released from our rescue range have a good chance of finding food and being a productive member of the ecosystem.”
The Center adds that it has successfully released 159 healthy California sea lions back into the wild since the beginning of 2015, which is more than they rescued all of last year. Before the animals are released, the Center ensures they are not only healthy enough to compete for resources, but have the necessary skills to do so. The animals are referred to as “patients.” Their release at Point Reyes maximizes their chance for survival, but the surge in stranded sea lions is beginning to tax the Center’s limited resources.
“What’s scary is that we don’t know when this will end,” says Dr. Shawn Johnson, director of veterinary science at The Marine Mammal Center. “This could be the new normal—a changed environment that we’re dealing with now.”
Via Huffington Post