The center said it sees a surge in the number of sea lions admitted with symptoms of leptospirosis every four to five years. Before the 2017 outbreak, the most recent ones occurred in 2011 and 2008. During the 2011 outbreak, about 200 sea lions infected with leptospirosis were admitted to the center, according to a news release.
“What we currently have on the Columbia River is an ecosystem seriously out of balance,” said Herrera Beutler, who believes the bill is necessary to save fish runs on the brink of extinction.
Last year saw an alarming dieoff of North Atlantic right whales, something researchers refer as an “unusual mortality event.” Their carcasses littered the shores of the east coast—12 in Canada and 5 in the United States. Necropsies revealed that most of the animals died from blunt force trauma or entanglement issues. This brings the North Atlantic right whale’s fragile population to an estimated fewer than 500.
It comes as figures reveal 2017 as a ‘devastating year’ for dolphins and porpoises, with a total of 249 cetaceans recorded as Marine Strandings along the Cornish coastline – the highest recorded since 2003.
About 12 of the 2017 cases were found in Monterey County sea lions, the Monterey Herald reported. Leptospirosis is caused by a spiral-shaped bacteria called leptospira. Two of the cases were in Santa Cruz County.
“We documented for first time marked changes in the pelagic food web length in response to various natural and anthropogenic related stressors,” said lead author Rocio I. Ruiz-Cooley, formerly of NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center and now at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. “This tells us that the food web is very dynamic, and reveals changes with the ecosystem around it.”