Large breeding populations of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are located on San Miguel and San Nicolas Islands in the Southern California Bight. In 2001, there was a substantial increase in pup mortality in late summer and fall. From June 2002 to January 2003, 208 freshly dead pups were examined on San Miguel Island, the most western of the Channel Islands off the coast of southern California. Tissues from 186 of these pups were examined histologically. The primary lesions in 133 (72%) of the pups were an enteritis associated with hookworms and infections in major organs. Emaciation/starvation in 43 pups (26%) was the second most important cause of death.
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Vol. 43 • No. 2