Scientists: Sea lion death rate will stay high

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Federal scientists are expecting another year of high death rates and strandings for sea lions and fur seals off the California coast.

Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say researchers found that pups of both species this fall were more than 30 percent below their normal weight. NOAA research biologist Sharon Melin tells the San Francisco Chronicle that low weights last year led to a huge death toll.

The main problem appears to be a lack of food. Scientists say the animals’ food supply of sardines, anchovies, Pacific hake, rockfish and squid has been affected by higher-than-normal Pacific Ocean temperatures.

Beach-goers are advised to stay away from stranded animals and to call for help instead.

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