Rescues of Sick Marine Mammals Rise in O.C. as Record Rains Pour Runoff Into Ocean

A rescued sea lion rests in a holding pen at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, on March 30, 2015. (Credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

A rescued sea lion rests in a holding pen at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, on March 30, 2015. (Credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

As record rains have poured down on California’s coasts, sending thousands of gallons of runoff into the ocean and dumping debris and trash onto the beaches, dozens of sickened marine mammals have been turning up along the state’s shores this winter.

Rescues of unhealthy seals and sea lions have nearly tripled for this time of year in Orange County, according to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, which this week took in its 41st pinniped since the year began.

“It’s been a little bit of a whirlwind,” said Krysta Higuchi, a spokeswoman for the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach. “We’re going through fish, funds and medical supplies faster than we expected. It is a strain on all of us here.”

The center says it’s normal for the number of stranded pinnipeds to go up near the end of March, but this year the organization has rescued a large number of sea lions along with three elephant seals much earlier than usual, and most are 8-month-old pups.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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