Featured Image Credit:ww.eeb.ucla.edu
By: Sarah Sharkey
Sea lions along the Oregon Coast are getting sick via a bacterial infection. The outbreak started in September and will likely persist into December according to Jim Rice. Jim Rice is a researcher at Oregon State University and serves as the stranding coordinator with the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network. He is the man who receives calls about stranded or dead sea lions and recently he has been getting at least one call a day, “It’s sometimes four, maybe five” he says.
The disease is called leptospirosis and there have been at least eight confirmed cases in dead sea lions. The most recent outbreak like this was in 2010. According to Rice, “We are likely to see another big spike in mortalities.”
Although the outbreak will cause many deaths, the health of the overall population of California sea lions should not be affected too much. Their range is just so large, from Alaska through California, and with their large population of around 300,000 animals, the long-term genetics will likely not even feel this unfortunate mortality event.
Leptospirosis causes fever, weakness and possibly kidney failure. The bacteria mostly affects young male sea lions and symptoms could include dehydration or depression. The disease could affect any mammal so officials are warning humans are their dogs to avoid sea lions for the time being.
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