Sea surface temperatures as indicators of yearling California sea lion stranding numbers along the California coast
McKibbon Corsi, Michelle Darleen Mai
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SubjectCalifornia Sea Lion; ENSO; Marine Mammal Conservation; Ocean Conservation; Sea Surface Temperature; Stranding
Marine mammal rescue centers around North America respond to calls from the public about animals that have stranded due to illness or injury. Each year financial planning must occur at these centers with little information on potential animal counts. For this foundational project, we examined the relationship of sea surface temperature (SST; proxy for prey availability) and California sea lion (Zalophus californianus, CSL) yearling stranding counts to determine if SST can be used to predict the number of strandings; information that might aid rescue organization to plan appropriately. Our results indicate a predictive potential between SST and stranding is possible but further investigation is needed. A more robust model including factors such as population dynamics, other environmental variables, or shifting temporal windows could derive more reliable prediction results. However, the prediction values from this study can provide some guidance for the stranding networks to assist them plan for upcoming years.
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