Supervisors Award $7K Grant to Study Sick Sea Lions

An unusual mortality event has been declared due to the large numbers of sick and deceased sea lions.

A sea lion recovers at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro. Credit Marine Mammal Care Center.
A sea lion recovers at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro. Credit Marine Mammal Care Center.
By City News Service

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a $7,000 grant to care for local sea lion pups found severely dehydrated and malnourished. 

Some marine rescue groups are calling the affliction an epidemic among California sea lions. An "unusual mortality event" was declared earlier this year.

The money will go to the Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur, a rehabilitation facility supported by the Foundation for Marine Animal Husbandry. The rescue center is one of the busiest of its kind in the country and typically treats between 300-500 marine mammals annually, primarily California sea lions and northern elephant seals. 

The Marine Mammal Care Center, where all ill sea mammals rescued in Los Angeles County are taken, typically admits about 50 animals during the first three months of each year, but in 2013, has already admitted 350 animals—some from Redondo Beach—that stranded due to illness or injury. 

The busy season is usually March to August. 

The grant—the organization's first from the Los Angeles County Fish and Game Commission—will fund diagnostic blood work and medicine. 

Sea lions and seals are protected under the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Marine Mammal Care Center has treated and released hundreds of animals back into the breeding population annually. 

The Marine Mammal Center documented its first major outbreak among sea lions in 1998. 

—Editor Nicole Mooradian contributed to this report.


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