Unexplained Sea Lion Die-Off

I just read this story about the alarming number of dead sea lions showing up around Monterey Bay in Central California.  We were just down at Moss Landing State Beach and saw for ourselves evidence of this die-off.  The sea lion had a couple of bites taken out of it but its unclear whether they were pre- or post-mortem.

dead_sealionA likely candidate for the cause of this excess mortality is food shortages due to unusually warm waters from the recent El Niño conditions, though no one has yet (to my knowledge) ruled out infectious disease, domoic acid, red tide, or any of the other possible causes of such die-offs.

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