A menacing “blob” of heat bubbling up in the Pacific Ocean has marine mammal rescuers on edge and gearing up for what could be an exceptionally active year.
The Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach has rescued four baby sea lions since November, an unusually high number so early in the season. The center usually fields calls about stranded pups in January or February.
Officials think the blob developing in the Pacific Ocean is to blame for the increased number of strandings, said Krysta Higuchi, a spokeswoman for the rescue center. What’s worse, the weather pattern may grow, creating the same oceanic heat wave that developed between 2014 and 2015 and for years caused thousands of sea lions to become stranded along California’s coast.
The threat comes after an already active year, with 188 sea lion rescues so far in 2019 compared with an average of 150, Higuchi said.
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