Sea Lion Stranding Crisis Worsens, Local Organizations Join Forces to Respond - Waitt FoundationWaitt Foundation

Sea Lion Stranding Crisis Worsens, Local Organizations Join Forces to Respond

NMMF Baby sea lions 5



Jennifer Cull | 619-840-5366 |

San Diego, CA (April 9, 2015) — Matching Grant from Waitt Foundation Issued  to Provide Emergency Care and Support – The National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF) today announced that the San Diego-based Waitt Foundation has issued a challenge grant to fund an emergency response to the increasing number of sick and starving sea lion pups stranding in record numbers along the southern California coast.  Every dollar contributed by the public will be matched one-to-one by the Waitt Foundation up to $25,000 with the goal of raising $50,000 to be dedicated to the direct and urgent care of stranded sea lion pups.

Donations can be made at

Since the first of the year, more than 1,600 California sea lion pups have beached themselves from San Diego up the coast to Sausalito.  The numbers continue to rise daily.  The pups are too weak and thin to forage for food– without human care, they won’t survive.  Scientists are expressing serious concerns since the traditional peak stranding season is just beginning.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA)recently requested the National Marine Mammal Foundation’s assistance for this federally declared marine mammal Unusual Mortality Event (UME).  The NMMF is deploying animal care teams to stranding centers in Southern California as well as coordinating personnel assignments to those facilities.

“Our primary focus is to help provide critical care to malnourished sea lions and improve their chance of survival, as dramatic changes are occurring in the oceans.  This generous matching grant combined with the public’s support will make a real difference,” said NMMF Executive Director Dr. Cynthia Smith.  

NMMF staff are joining forces with the Marine Mammal Care Center, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center and other stranding network providers to respond to the crisis.  The National Marine Mammal Foundation is helping to provide medical  treatment and nutritional support.

Researchers are considering a number of possible causes, including warmer waters and a decline in nutrient-rich fish stocks off the California coast.  Sardines in particular – which are a good source of food for growing pups – have declined by 72% since 2006.  

“While this entire generation of pups and the related Southern California ecosystem are our immediate priority, ” said Ted Waitt, Founder and Board Chairman of the Waitt Foundation, “this vast number of sick sea lions should serve as a wake up call — overfishing has wreaked havoc on our oceans and we must seek sustainable solutions.  We hope the public will join us not only in matching this grant today, but also in learning about the ongoing sharp decline in ocean health and taking action into the future.”

Donations can be made to the National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF) directly by clicking here.

To report a stranded seal or sea lion, please contact your local stranding network or local authorities.


About The Waitt Foundation

The Waitt Foundation, established by Gateway, Inc. co-founder Ted Waitt in 1993, specializes in public-private partnership and supports a variety of national and international programs concentrating on ocean health. Partnering with unique coalitions of government, foundations & philanthropists, NGOs, academics, and business, the Waitt Foundation supports high impact projects with the ultimate aim to “restore our oceans to full productivity.” Learn more at and @WaittFdn.

About The National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF)

The National Marine Mammal Foundation, a non-profit organization, has a mission to improve and protect life for all marine mammals, humans and our shared oceans through science, service and education. @NMMForg

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