In a study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE, a group of scientists from various state and federal agencies, universities and bird rescue organizations documented the die-off and concluded from the data that it was caused by a record-breaking ocean heat wave in 2014 through 2016 that triggered systemic changes throughout the ocean ecosystem.
n February, southwest winds brought warm air and turned thin sea ice into “snow cone ice” that melted or blew off. When a storm pounded Norton Sound, water on Feb. 12 surged up the Yukon River and into Kotlik, flooding low-lying homes. Lifelong resident Philomena Keyes, 37, awoke to knee-deep water outside her house.
“This is the first I experienced in my life, a flood that happened in the winter, in February,” Keyes said in a phone interview.
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.
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