An 8 foot long male California Sea Lion washed ashore in West Seattle a few days ago. This is not an unusual event but also not common. Male California Sea Lions visit Puget Sound every year and can be seen from August to May in Elliott Bay in small numbers. Females remain south of Washington and only rarely do strays enter the Sound. Cause of death of this individual is unknown and a necropsy well likely not be done.
Juvenile California Sea Lions have been suffering from malnourishment in California which may be a result of the population crash of the prey item, sardines. The sardines became immortalized in John Steinbeck's CANNERY ROW in the 1940's. The California population of sardines which was estimated in millions of metric tons crashed in the 1950's and has never recovered to its 1940's level but did make a bit of a recovery in the last few decades....this partial recovery is now over it appears.
The reason for the crash is not fully understood.....hoe much is due to natural population swings and how much to human actions is a big question.