This spring, southern California has seen a massive number of sea lion pup strandings. Over 1,300 baby sea lions, born last summer, have stranded themselves and are being found up and down the coastline emaciated, dehydrated and enduring hypothermia. Scientists are looking for clues to understand why the sea lion youngsters seem to have been cut off from their food supply, leading to what NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service has deemed an "unusual mortality event."
Meanwhile, conservation photographer Morgan Heim travelled to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center to document the phenomenal effort workers and volunteers are putting into rescuing and caring for these youngsters so they can be released back into the wild. Here is their story in photos.