The warming waters of the Pacific ocean has affected another species of marine life, and Guadalupe fur seals are dying off in masses in California, causing officials to further investigate the problem.
- The yearly average of stranded fur seas on the California shore has been of 10
- The Guadalupe fur seals are endangered and protected
- 80 made their way to shore, but it’s believed that more have died off at sea
- It’s believed that the warming waters of the Pacific Ocean has scattered their food
The Guadalupe fur seal (or Arctocephalus townsendi) can often found around their main breeding grounds on Guadalupe Island, close to Baja California, Mexico. Their estimated population stands at 10,000, though it has been suggested that their numbers have been drastically cut.
New reports confirm conservationists’ fears, when it was found that 80 Guadalupe fur seals have come ashore in the 8 months span since January, 2015. The animals are commonly solitary creatures and prefer spending their time drifting off into the waters. It has been suggested that these short ‘haul-outs’ have been caused by the unusually warm temperatures in the ocean.
Out of the 80 strandings found on the shores of California, 42 of the seals were unfortunately found dead, while a number of 38 were still alive, but sickly. In fact, 33 of the alive Guadalupe fur seal were taken in by The Marine Mammal Centre for treatment and hopes in nursing the animals back to health. Only 11 survived and were rehabilitated.
The saddening loss and odd behavior has led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to declare this as an “unusual mortality event”.
They have granted additional funds and resource for the purpose of investigating the neglected species. Researchers will be determining if the blame of massive die-offs falls on the warm blobs throughout the Pacific Ocean.
It’s possible that the increasing temperatures have caused their food to scatter from their usual patterns. Squids, mackerel or lantern fish might’ve possibly migrated farther north to escape the heat in the ocean, which is believed to grow worse. Tracked fur seals were also found to swim more in that direction than previously observed.
Because of El Nino, the problem might continue in the next couple of months.
According to Toby Garfield, director of environmental research for NOAA, the warming waters for the past two years have changed “the range of forage fish” that the seals usually chase for feeding. These estimations have been made due to the worrying number of strandings on the Californian coast.
Between 2009 and 2014, the yearly average of fur seals to visit the shore was of 10, which has apparently jumped eight times over in 2015, and the year is not even over yet.
Guadalupe fur seals commonly have a lifespan of 20 years, so it’s believed that most of them have passed due to starvation or sickness. Their population is already threatened, placed under the Endangered Species Act in 1985, and protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act since 1972, after massive die-offs in the 1800s due to commercial hunting.
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