Alarming number of sea lion pups coming ashore

HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. A family in Hermosa Beach had a surprise visitor in their yard Tuesday. A sea lion pup was napping in their yard. The emaciated pup had crossed two busy streets and an alley, finally unlatching a gate in order to make its way.

"They woke up and found a young sea lion sleeping very soundly on a cushion chair that they had in their front yard," said Peter Wallerstein, a marine animal rescuer.

This isn't a stand-alone incident. Wednesday morning a sea lion was found wandering the streets in San Diego. Last month a pup climbed four flights of stairs to the rooftop of a Newport Beach condominium.

Wallerstein says these types of rescues are part of his daily life.

"These animals are weaned by mom. Mom sea lions are giving birth in June, so these animals are alone right now," said Wallerstein. "What is exasperating the problem is their food sources are either deeper, in colder waters or have left the area which makes it harder for these pups to find food."

Marine Animal Rescue had six sea lion rescues on Wednesday alone, 90 in April and over 200 this year.

"We need people, whether they're on the beach, or on the streets, or on the jetties to give these animals some space. If they chase these animals in the water, they might be doomed. If they chase them in the water, we might lose our chance to help the animal."

This year's El Nino has caused a food shortage for the sea lions, which will continue to bring the skinny pups out of the cold ocean looking for warmth.

If you see a pup, stay away, and contact Marine Animal Rescue at 1-800-39-whale.

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