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Wednesday, March 25, 2015


by Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco

Wildlife services in California are being pushed to their limits this year. Since January 2015, every month has set a record in sea lion "strandings," mostly sea lion pups, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "There has been an unusually high number of sea lions stranded since January," said Justin Greenman, assistant stranding coordinator for NOAA on the West Coast. "Stranding does happen, but just to give you perspective, 1,800 [sea lion] pups have been responded to this year alone. We responded to 1,600 strandings total during the entire year in 2013," he said. Stranding is the official term to describe marine life that "swim or float into shore and become beached or stuck," according to NOAA. Greenman said California has had warmer weather than usual this year, and, while NOAA is still conducting studies on the Channel Islands to get a more proven explanation, warmer water drives the food source farther out or deeper into the ocean, where the colder water is. When food is farther away, the mothers are away from the pup too long in search of food, and return with little food or too few nutrients for a growing sea lion. —CNN, March 18, 2015

The pups
rise like shaking hands
out of the surf,

with their skin
held like bunched blankets
round their shoulders. They aren’t

Who should claim them?

From the road, they are the color of the sand –
easy to miss. Think

of them:
their wide steep eyes,
and their bones like broken sticks.

Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco lives in California. Her poetry has appeared in The New Verse News, Word Riot, The Kentucky Review, Paper Nautilus, The Lake, and The Tule Review, among others.