Orange County Register, Feb 25, 2015 (emphasis added): Tiny crabs still coming in waves off Balboa Island — Thousands… created a rim of red along the shoreline, scattered on the sand along the sleepy seaside of Balboa Island in Newport Beach… Experts say the crabs – which are about 1-to 3-inches long – haven’t been seen in the area for decades… The pelagic crabs are the latest in a year of odd sightings… glow-in-the-dark organisms called pyrosomes washed ashore in September, and before that a blue, jellyfish-like creatures… Continue reading »
Alaska Dispatch News, Dec 11, 2014 (emphasis added): Scientists seek cause of patchy baldness in some Beaufort Sea polar bears — Polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea area are suffering hair loss due to a condition called alopecia syndrome… but the precise cause of that stress is yet to be determined, according to a new study… in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases… Over the study period, 3.45 percent of the bears examined had alopecia syndrome — [loss of] hairs around the head, neck and shoulders, accompanied by crusty lesions on the exposed skin. The incidences peaked in 2012, when 28 percent of the examined polar bears had the problem. That was at about the same time a mysterious affliction, with patchy fur loss and bleeding skin lesions, sickened hundreds of Arctic Alaska seals, killing many of them. The affliction was seen among some walruses… There were some years when none of the captured polar bears had alopecia syndrome, and some years, like 2012, with relatively high rates… “They might be more energetically stressed, and then they encounter some other stressors,” [USGS biologist Todd Atwood] said… Further analysis of the Beaufort bears’ alopecia problems is planned… Continue reading »
NBC L.A., Mar 12, 2015 (emphasis added): “The sea lion emergency is back all along the California shore“… [Pups] are washing ashore at a rate so alarming, rescuers said Thursday, this year is the worst yet… more than 1,600 marine mammals [have been picked up].
KTLA, Mar 10, 2015: Stranding numbers for the months of January and February were more than 20 times the average [said NOAA]. Continue reading »
McClatchy, Mar 13, 2015 (emphasis added): With millions of starfish dying all along the West Coast [and] disintegrating into mush [Congressman Denny Heck wants NOAA] to declare “sea star wasting syndrome” an emergency before the starfish becomes extinct.
NOAA, Feb 18, 2015 (pdf): We are seeing an unusually large increase of California sea lion pups stranding [that’s] intensified over the last few weeks… it is very difficult to pinpoint what is causing the increase… [There are] warmer waters than usual, but an official El Nino has not yet been declared… [We are] preparing for the worst… health trends of marine mammals [inform] us about the health of the entire ecosystem… if the stranding numbers exceed the 2013 UME [facilities will be unable to] accept more animals… animals may be left on the beach [or] humanely euthanized.
Malibu Surfside News, Mar 3, 2015: The number of animals that can be rescued and rehabilitated is very small compared to the total number of pups in distress… in 2013, Federal officials estimated that 70 percent of the total number [~35,000 out of 50,000 newborns]may have died and experts say that the numbers may be even higher this year. Continue reading »
FOX 11 News, Feb 23, 2015 (emphasis added): Dozens of dead Sea Lions litter Malibu beaches; families shocked — A family stumbled upon nearly 10 dead sea lions on a Malibu beach Sunday (WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES IN THIS STORY AND VIDEO) “We just came down the stairs and little sea lions are being washed on to shore dying,” Neda Soderqvist says… “It was devastating to see a bunch of sea lions just lying dead. It wasn’t one or two it was six or eight,” Soderqvist said to FOX 11′s Christine O’Donnell. The sight was especially difficult for her seven-year-old… “They came up and just died right in front of us,” Isabella said… Earlier in the week, Kristin Thames says stumbled across the same devastating scene… “They’re only allowed to take three sea lion pups because there’s not enough space at the rescue centers for more,” Thames said, “it’s really sad.”
Marin Independent Journal, Feb 21, 2015: “First time in our history that we have had sea lion pups here this early” [said] Shawn Johnson, director of veterinary science at the mammal center… sea lions are a sentinel species, a canary in the coal mine. “They can tell us what is happening in the ocean and if it’s unhealthy.” Continue reading »
San Luis Obispo (SLO) Tribune, Feb 18, 2015 (emphasis added): I am a volunteer at Pacific Wildlife Care… there is an ongoing problem throughout California with band-tailed pigeons that have grown sick or are dying of Trichomoniasis – a protozoan that causes lesions to form in the throat and nasal passages.
San Francisco Chronicle, Feb 2, 2015: Mass pigeon deaths alarm biologists — An alarming increase in the number of dead and dying band-tailed pigeons along the California coast… apparent victims of a parasite… The sudden increase in mortality is disturbing, [Krysta Rogers, Calif. Dept. of Fish & Wildlife] said… “[It] is very concerning… Right now, it’s really hard to estimate mortality because… if there are deaths in remote locations, we’re not getting reports.”… [The parasite] lives in the mouth and throat of infected birds, causing lesions in the mouth or esophagus that eventually block the passage of food. Infected birds die from starvation or suffocation. Continue reading »
LA Times, Feb 12, 2015 (emphasis added): [A] record number of sea lions [have] been rescued in recent weeks. “One hundred and two California sea lions in the last 10 days,” a spokeswoman for the [Marine Mammal Center] said… The influx is unprecedented…
National Geographic, Feb 12, 2015: Since January 1, nearly 500 of the tiny animals have been [rescued] a number many times higher than normal. Why these animals are struggling to survive is a mystery… California sea lions are considered a sentinel species, meaning they’re seen as indicators of ocean health. Generally, if sea lions are suffering, something is wrong offshore. In this case, scientists still don’t really know what that something is… Starting in January 2013, waves of starving sea lion pups began washing ashore… Scientists noted that the stranding pattern resembled that of severe El Niño years [with] warm ocean waters… The trouble was, these weren’t El Niño years… January 2014, strandings started to swell again… Now, 2015 is looking even worse… more than 470 sea lions have been admitted to California rehab centers… For now, it’s too soon to say… if the sea lion pups are heralding the demise of something else beneath the waves. Continue reading »
Fox 5 San Diego transcript, Feb 9, 2015 (emphasis added): It’s been a record year right now for seal and sea lion rescues all along our coast… For some reason sardines and crayfish have pretty much disappeared from the Pacific Ocean — and that is having a very negative impact on seals and sea lions, especially their babies…
Dr. Todd Schmitt, who runs Sea World’s Animal Rescue Center, Feb 9, 2015: “This time of year, we’re seeing 10 times the numbers we’d normally see during the stranding season… They’re all just severely malnourished. They’re coming in emaciated, dehydrated, really severe body condition… They just can’t find food on their own… We think the food – fish — they’re looking for isn’t there. That crayfish, the sardines, have just vanished from California waters, at least around the Channel Islands and coastal areas, so they’re just not able to find food… They’re struggling to survive right now.” Continue reading »
Orange County Register, Jan 25, 2015 (emphasis added): … Marine mammal experts say the numbers could hit even higher levels than in 2013 [a record-setting year for sea lion strandings], which federal officials called an unusual mortality event… The difference this year: Starving pups showed up as early as December. Sick females and juveniles are also being found… “The difference [now] is we’re not just seeing little pups,” said Lauren Palmer, a veterinarian [with the Marine Mammal Center at Fort MacArthur]. “Females and yearlings are coming in… It’s really hard to wrap our head around the story of what’s happening.”…
Fox San Diego, Jan 27, 2015 (emphasis added): SeaWorld rescue teams have taken in more than 50 baby sea lions stranded on San Diego shores… “Their skin is so loose hanging off them, it looks like they’re wearing pajamas” [said SeaWorld’s] Jody Wetberg…
LA Times, Jan 30, 2015: “Their growth is stunted,” said Shawn Johnson… at the Marine Mammal Center… “They’re basically starved to death — no muscle, no fat, just skin and bones.”… January 2015, however, has been “extremely unusual” for the Northern California center, he said. In winter, the sea lion population is concentrated in Southern California, then shifts northward in late summer, Johnson said. So for the center to see so many animals is cause for further concern… “Maybe the fish have all left, and that’s why this is happening.” Continue reading »
Focus: Sea Urchin Disease — The Nature Conservancy (TNC) first observed sick-looking urchins at an old sunken barge [in] Oahu. They were also observed more recently on patch reefs in Kaneohe Bay (KB), Oahu… The first report of sick-looking urchins was made back in late February of 2014. Then in early May, sick-looking urchins were observed at KB… HFS [Honolulu Field Station], DLNR [Department of Land and Natural Resources], and TNC set out to investigate and conducted surveys at both sites, collecting healthy and sick urchins. Necropsies were then conducted at the HFS lab to determine cause of death… Affected urchins have dull flattened spines (droopy urchins), or gradual to complete loss of spines (outside skeleton bare). Some are found empty with some tissue and spine remaining on their surface. At this point, the public is encouraged to report any sick or dead urchins to the Eyes Of the Reef network in order to determine how widespread this event is. Laboratory efforts are underway to try and identify what is causing this disease.
Necropsy Files: Tumors in Birds — In August 2013, an adult nene from Hawaii died of lymphoma, a cancer of blood cells. In September, 2013, a critically endangered Rota crow died from liver cancer. These two cases were unusual in that cancer is rare in wildlife in general. Most wild animals do not live long enough to get cancer and usually die from things like starvation, trauma, or infectious diseases. Continue reading »
Williams Lake Tribune columnist Diana French, Jan 13, 2015 (emphasis added): Out of sight is out of mind. Those of us living in the Interior might not know or care that sea creatures are sick, dying or disappearing at an alarming rate all along the Pacific coast. There are dying oysters, bleeding herring, melting star fish, hungry Orcas and sick seals. The latest are dead seabirds… Some blame ocean acidification for the devastation, others wonder if it’s radiation fallout from Fukushima. Whatever, it might be helpful to find the cause before all the creatures are gone. Continue reading »
Orange County Register, Jan 10, 2015 (emphasis added): 8 sea lions rescued in OC in just over a week; number mystifies officials — It’s not normal for eight sea lions to need rescuing in just over a week — especially at this time of year. But that’s exactly what has happened… six were pups and yearlings… [one] only 21 pounds, and [another] 23 pounds… [Experts don’t] know why it’s happening.
ABC 7′s Greg Lee, Jan 12, 2015: Sad, sad photo: Huge increase in rescued #sealions across CA
ABC Los Angeles, Jan 12, 2015: Sea lions in distress — a mysterious surge in sick sea lions… here in S. California and statewide… New at 5, a big increase in the number of stranded sea lions being rescued… Some of them very seriously ill… nearly a dozen sea lions at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. Facilities across California are reporting a massive increase in the number of sea lions needing to be rescued in 2015… Baby sea lions [are] in very bad shape. Continue reading »
Statesman Journal, Jan 2, 2015 (emphasis added): Why is the beach covered in dead birds?… “I’ve never seen that many before”… a mass die-off [is] going on along the entire West Coast… “To be this lengthy and geographically widespread, I think is kind of unprecedented,” [said Phillip Johnson of the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition]. Continue reading »
The holiday spirit is alive and well in a hospital in Siberia, where Masha, Russia’s own ‘Hachiko’ dog was given permanent residence status. For a whole year the loyal pet kept ‘dogging’ the hospital, waiting for her owner who had passed away.
Despite a number of attempts to have Masha adopted, the heartbroken pooch kept running away and coming back to the Novosibirsk District Hospital Number One, where she last saw her owner in December, 2013. Continue reading »
Due to extensive poaching in which the perceived value of their horns seems to matter more than their lives, the northern white rhino population has dwindled severely through the years. While many people may consider numbers in the hundreds or even thousands small, in the instance of the northern white rhino, the numbers are much more shocking; they can literally be counted on one hand.
Sadly, with the recent natural death of Angalifu, a 44-year-old rhino at San Diego’s National Safari Park, there are now only five left on the planet. While it’s good news that they’re under the protection of zoos and wildlife reserves, the bad news is that it’s unlikely that the remaining rhinos will produce offspring, as it’s very rare for rhinos to breed in captivity. In fact, the female rhino at the San Diego Park, Nola (who is still living), was unable to produce offspring with Angalifu.(1,2)Continue reading »
Another mysterious wave of dead sea animals has washed ashore in Peru, the possible consequence of ongoing radiation releases from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility in Japan. BBC News reports that 500 dead sea lions were recently discovered on Peru’s northern coastline, some 250 miles north of the capital city of Lima, with no obvious explanation as to why this occurred.
The latest of several mass die-offs in recent years, the rotting corpses were found on Anconcillo Beach, located in Peru’s Ancash region. Both young and old sea lions were found at the site, which the local governor blamed on fishermen who may have poisoned them while they searched for food at the shoreline. Others like the environmental group Orca, however, say oil exploration is probably the cause. Continue reading »
As the US Navy conducts war games off the coasts of California and Hawaii over the next four years, environmentalists are fighting back with legal action over concerns that hundreds, if not thousands, of marine animals will be injured or killed.
The Conservation Council for Hawaii has recently asked a judge to put an end to the naval exercises in the region on the grounds that they violate the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the Washington Post reports. The group previously filed a lawsuit against the war games last year before the exercises began, arguing the drills should not have been approved in the first place. Continue reading »