SeaWorld rescues 9 more sea lions this weekend - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

SeaWorld rescues 9 more sea lions this weekend

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The U.S. Government is sounding the alarm about the high numbers of sea lion strandings.

Sunday morning, SeaWorld rescued nine sea lions from Oceanside to Encinitas.

Now, the National Marine Mammal Foundation is leading a group assessing the crisis.

It's an alarming trend across Southern California -- near starving sea lion pups, coming ashore and getting stranded.

Easter weekend, Seaworld had to rescue five in Oceanside.

"I think it's pretty heartbreaking to see a young pup, all on its own without its mother to look after it," said beach goer Dru Boehmer.

Two other dehydrated little guys had to be rescued in Encinitas at Swamis Beach.

Video footage shows one pup jump off the rocks into the water, but ended up coming back to shore in need of help.

"That was a pretty easy catch. A healthy animal would have just taken off in the water," said Oceanside Lifeguard Blake Faumunina.

Lifeguards saved two more in Imperial Beach, one was cautioned taped away from people.

"It breaks my heart to see this," said another beach goer.  

As of Sunday, SeaWorld has rescued 300 sea lions so far this year. That's more than 2011 and 2012 combined.

"Apparently there's 10-20-30 a day up and down the coast of San Diego," said Faumunina.

The big question is why is this happening?

Marine biologists are looking into whether the animal's food source has moved or is not accessible.

The National Marine Mammal Foundation says, this is a crisis of epic proportions and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association declared an unusual mortality event for sea lions on Thursday.

Lifeguards worry they will find even more starving sea lions in the weeks ahead.

"I can't remember the last time we had this many," said Faumunina.

SeaWorld says an El Nino event back in the late 90's led to a record number of sea lion rescues in San Diego County, with well over 400 in one year.

In the last week, SeaWorld had to open additional areas and rearrange people's schedules just to keep up with the influx of sea lions.

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