More than 1,100 malnourished sea lion pups have washed ashore in Southern California since the beginning of the year.
Now, rescue centers are seeing some of the same pups, which were already rescued and released, washing ashore again.
While not an uncommon occurrence, experts are keeping a close eye on"re-strandings," as part of the larger epidemic of starving sea lions, which last week led to an official declaration of an Unusual Mortality Event (UME), said David Bard, operations manager at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro.
The status allows for the establishment of a panel of experts to convene to look for answers and will also provide for extra funding.
"We got a call from the facility in Sausalito TMMC that one of our animals stranded up north of Santa Barbara," said Bard. "We've also received calls from facility south of us that they've seen one of our animals down there."
A female pup that was rescued and treated in San Pedro earlier this year, was rescued in Sausalito April 2nd, which is more than 400 miles away. Because the pup was tagged and chipped, experts at the Sausalito Marine Mammal Care Center were able to track the pup and obtain its medical history from its original rescue in San Pedro.
"She had lost about half of her weight, so she was definitely emaciated," said Jim Oswald, a spokesman at the Marine Mammal Care Center in Sausalito. "She also had a bit of pneumonia and she has a bit of an injury on her right flipper."
While it's unclear how many repeat pups centers have been seeing, experts will continue to monitor the numbers.
"Right now I think it's too early to pin any trends to the re-sightings and re-strandings," Bard said. "Keep in mind these animals are traveling great distances to these other facilities where they're admitted, so I don't think we can draw any conclusions just yet."
You can donate to the rescue efforts to save the sea lion pups. The Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro will have its next volunteer orientation on April 20.