Sharp Rise In Starving California Seal Pups Reported

SAUSALITO (KCBS) – The Marine Mammal Center has treated nearly twice as many emaciated seal pups as usual this year, and biologists do not know why so many are malnourished.

“We think that possibly some of these animals might have been separated from mom during the weaning process, probably from the more recent storms,” said Jim Oswald, a spokesman for the center.

Elephant seals give birth to 60-pound babies that typically weigh in at about 300 pounds when they leave beaches and get into the water on their own two months later. Oswald said off-leash dogs may also be to blame for the spike in thinner than normal pups.

“Simply put, humans and dogs on a beach might actually scare away mom. And then the mom takes off and might not come back,” he said, leaving the pup to fend for itself before its ready.

Oswald said 70 elephant seals are being treated at the center now compared to 40 in April 2011.

The Mammal Center has received dozens of calls this spring about stranded pups, many of which have been found to be underweight.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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