When Taking Fido to the Beach Makes Him Sick

Most dead sea lions left to rot

By Lori Preuitt
|  Tuesday, Aug 18, 2009  |  Updated 9:45 AM PDT
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Weirdest Creatures of the World

Rotting carcasses more than just stinky

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Dead Sea Lions Pile Up Along Peninsula Coastline

An environmental health hazard is brewing along the coast at Half Moon Bay, where sea lions washing ashore dead are being left to rot.
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There is a new warning for dog owners who like to take their pooches to the beach.

A rash of young sea lions washing up dead along the coast from Orange County to Del Norte in Northern California are being left to rot and their carcasses can carry bacteria that can make animals sick.

Scientists say the sea lions are dying up and the down the state because they can't find enough food.

One beach visitor said he saw four dead sea lions on a recent walk; someone else said they counted five.

Last year, some 59,000 sea lions were born on the Channel Islands -- up from 53,000 just a few years ago.

Scientists say the population explosion, combined with fish moving further out to sea, is causing young sea lions to starve to death.

The rotting sea lion carcasses are causing a biohazard that could make people and pets sick. Dogs are drawn to the stink and often like to like roll around in them. But medical experts say that can be very unhealthy.

One beach goer questioned why the state is letting the animals rot.

"I think they should be removed. They should be buried properly. They're an intelligent animal. Just to leave them to rot doesn't seem right to me," Mark Dittbernner said.

Scientists at the Cal Academy say they respond to reports of dead animals and often collect samples to find out why the wildlife died, but say they can't bury them all because there are so many.

If you see a dead or sick sea lion, you should not touch it and don't let your animal get close either.

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