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SeaWorld Researchers Change the Conversation—Saving Stranded Sea Lion Pups

By Ryan Wallace staff@sciencetimes.com | Mar 08, 2015 12:29 PM EDT

When it comes to the politics surrounding SeaWorld San Diego, the conversation may be a bit skewed towards the radical since recent news about the aquarium's practices with marine mammals has come to light. Orca whales like Shamu have become icons for the conversation surrounding SeaWorld's questionable practices, but it's the people behind the scenes that should really be making the news. 

Though animal rights activists have questioned the capacity of the aquarium and the living situation of the performers, SeaWorld researchers and trainers are proving that the company's main concern is the health and well-being of the animals. And with a new decision that has suspended sea lion and sea otter shows in the weeks to come, SeaWorld's employees are taking a stance for what they know is right.

Starting this weekend, Mar. 7, the popular "Sea Lions LIVE" show at SeaWorld will be taking a brief hiatus so that local trainers can join SeaWorld's field team to help rescue sickly sea lion pups recently stranded on California's shores. To date SeaWorld has rescued more than 400 sea lions in 2015, twice the average number they help in any single given year, and federal officials are saying that the aquarium has its work cut out for them. According to federal officials, more than a thousand sea lion pups have been stranded this year, and the emaciated and dehydrated pups are expected to keep washing ashore in record numbers until marine mammal experts can determine what is causing the high level of distress.

Left to fend for themselves, the sea lion pups are straining the resources that SeaWorld and other rescue and rehabilitation facilities have. But in order to accommodate their new guests SeaWorld is relocating some of its trainers to help with the young pups, and they are also building two temporary pools for the rescued sea lions.

"Along with the help of news outlets across the nation, we are raising awareness about the struggle California sea lions are facing this year" spokespersons with SeaWorld say. "And while we hope 2015 will be a healthy year for the North American native, our promise has and will always be to rescue, rehabilitate and return animals as long as they are in need."

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