Thank You! Your donations are solving the mystery of sea lion pup deaths.
The news was shocking: An alarming number of undernourished sea lion pups began washing ashore on the beaches of Southern California earlier this year. When Morris Animal Foundation learned that more than 1,200 California sea lions, mostly young pups, had died suddenly, we knew we had to help researchers find answers.
This type of research is exactly why our Betty White Wildlife Rapid Response Fund was established three years ago. It allows us to quickly provide funding for wildlife researchers who will search for answers when urgent, unexpected health threats to animals arise.
Within weeks, we were able to approve funding for Dr. Stephanie Venn-Watson, a veterinary epidemiologist at the National Marine Mammal Foundation. She and a team of researchers are now busy working to determine if infectious diseases are killing sea lion pups. The team is evaluating microscopic lesions in tissues of sea lions that were stranded and died in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego counties.
"Receiving this award was critical," Dr. Venn-Watson notes. "Our first steps will be to evaluate possible causes of this unusual mortality event (UME) by looking for common lesions among sea lion pups that died, including those caused by starvation, infections and toxins. We will also use molecular diagnostic tests for specific viruses and bacteria that may have caused or worsened the UME," she adds.
Contributions from donors like you directly enable this vital research to be done. Through Morris Animal Foundation funding, as well as funding from other public-private partners, multidisciplinary teams of scientists are working together to address key questions about the ocean's health that may help protect both marine mammals and humans.
There's still a need, thank you for your past and future support. If you'd like to make an additional donation, you can do so through our Causes page or on our website: https://secure3.convio.net/maf/site/Donation2?df_id=1420&1420.donation=form1