Voracious sea lions invade the Columbia River
March 29, 2015
Thousands of hungry California sea lions and harbor seals have swarmed into the Columbia River seeking food. The more than 6,000 sea lions and seals have damaged docks and affected water quality. [GrindTV]
A marine mammal biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife photographed harbor seals and sea lions at the mouth of the Columbia last month.
Dwindling sardine populations, a sea lion diet staple, have prompted many older California sea lions to head north seeking food. Currently, during the smelt and salmon runs, the lower Columbia River has a relative abundance of food.
Meanwhile, in California, more than 1,600 starving sea lions have washed up on the shore this year with mre than 500 on the Central Coast.
Some scientists blame overpopulation. Historically, it was estimated approximately 40,000 sea lions lived in the waters off California, now that number has swelled to over 300,000.
Another theory is that climate change is to blame. Because of warmer ocean temperatures, dwindling fish populations have forced sea lion mothers to spend more time at sea hunting food while their babies are left behind.
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