According to NOAA, sea lion pups are washing up onto beaches when the mothers prematurely wean them due to lack of food. The majority have been found in Los Angeles County, but the Marine Mammal Center San Luis Obispo Operations said some are found along the Central Coast as well.
The Site Manager for the SLO Operations Facility Lisa Harper Henderson says the reason for this is unclear and scientists are investigating the cause.
Henderson says an unusual mortality event (UME) has been declared by NOAA. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act a UME is defined as: "a stranding that is unexpected; involves a significant die-off of any marine mammal population; and demands immediate response."
Henderson said there are 11 pups at the facility. This is double the amount for the same time period last year. She said these incidents could be due to various factors including pollution in the ocean, warmer water temperatures, or the human fingerprint on the ocean.