Adam Spencer, The Triplicate

The Northcoast Marine Mammal Center recently released sea lions that were rehabilitated after the animals were found stranded in Southern California, part of a wave of strandings that puzzled scientists.

The total number of stranded California sea lions this year came to 1,550 - five times higher than what is seen in a normal year, according to officials from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The strandings started in January and dropped off in April, officials said.

About 30 percent of these stranded animals died, but the rest, like the seven taken in at the Crescent City center, were successfully rehabilitated.

The high amount of strandings was designated an "unusual mortality event," freeing up additional funds to study the cause. Those findings are expected to be released this summer.

As one of only seven marine mammal centers in the state, the Crescent City facility took on rehabilitation of some of the underweight sea lion to relieve centers to the south.

The pups became fat enough to be deemed healthy and were released by the center last week.

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