“Radiation epidemic” killing So. California sea lions?

bs5149e464Source: The Orange County Register

NOAA investigates: natural die-off, radiation?

A team of experts assembled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency is looking into radiation from Japan’s nuclear disaster as one of several possible causes of the ongoing sea lion stranding along Southern California beaches. […]

Sea lions keep washing ashore, many in more critical condition than in the weeks before.

[…] All sea lions present similar symptoms, including dehydration and starvation. Some are also showing secondary infections. In Ventura County, mammal centers are finding a high amount of lice. […]

“The radiation epidemic could be a potential cause,” [Sarah Wilkin, NOAA’s California stranding coordinator] said. “We need to look at what’s different in 2013 as compared to 2012, 2011 and 2010. “We will work with lab tests that look at radionuclide signatures. Scientifically, we don’t think radiation is the cause but without testing and data we can’t say for sure. We need to rule it in or out.” […]

“Marine mammals are sentinels of the eco system,” Wilkin said. […]