Originally Posted by Bigmuz7
So whats making them do this ? is this a common occurrence ?
Seems to happen every few years.
From what the biologists are saying, there was a coincidental toxic plankton bloom about the time the pups were weaned. Since Mom only stays around til the pups quit suckling, they have a) a massive change in diet from milk to fish, and b) the added toxins from the fish feeding on the plankton. They get sick, and haul out wherever they can.
In the US, pinnipeds and cetaceans are protected under the MMPA (Marine Mammal Protection Act) which, among other things, forbids the public from feeding, harassing, injuring, or killing marine mammals. The act of shooing one of these guys into the water could, in theory, draw a $10K fine.
If living by the letter of the law, I was in violation taking these pictures, as I was way closer than is proscribed. Interestingly, shortly after I was too close to these guys, I got these pics (no violation, as she came up to me.) Shots taken at about, oh, three to five feet away, within a few feet of the surface.