Starving sea lions ashore in Calif.

Starving sea lion pups are washing up on Southern California beaches at a rate more than five times higher than usual, and scientists are scrambling to figure out why.

Since the beginning of the year, nearly 1,300 emaciated sea lions found

stranded on beaches from San Diego to Santa Barbara have been treated at facilities across the state.

Sea Lion Strandings Climb, Scientists Still Stumped

This year, an unusually high number of sea lion pups have stranded on southern California's shores, overwhelming marine mammal rehab centers.

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LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 05: A stranded and malnourished juvenile sea lion pup sits on the rocks of White Point Park waiting to get rescued by Peter Wallerstein of Marine Animal Rescue on April 5, 2013 in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles, California. The sea lion pup, which weighed only 25 pounds, was transported to Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur for rehabilitation. All along the California coast, sea lions have been getting stranded in great numbers since January for reasons unknown. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration estimates that in the first three months of 2013, more than 900 malnourished sea lions have been rescued in the region compared to 100 during the same time period one year ago. Officials have declared an "unusual mortality event" for the California sea lion, a designation that prompts immediate federal response. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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eLOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 05: Peter Wallerstein of Marine Animal Rescue rescues a stranded and malnourished sea lion pup from White Point Park on April 5, 2013 in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles, California. The sea lion pup, which weighed only 25 pounds, was transported to Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur for rehabilitation. All along the California coast, sea lions have been getting stranded in great numbers since January for reasons unknown. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration estimates that in the first three months of 2013, more than 900 malnourished sea lions have been rescued in the region compared to 100 during the same time period one year ago. Officials have declared an "unusual mortality event" for the California sea lion, a designation that prompts immediate federal response. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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³LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 05: Lifeguard Cliff Kjoss buries a sea lion pup after it was found on Dockweiler State Beach on April 5, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. All along the California coast, sea lions have been getting stranded in great numbers since January for reasons unknown. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration estimates that in the first three months of 2013, more than 900 malnourished sea lions have been rescued in the region compared to 100 during the same time period one year ago. Officials have declared an "unusual mortality event" for the California sea lion, a designation that prompts immediate federal response. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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¾LONG BEACH, CA - APRIL 05: A stranded and malnourished juvenile sea lion is rescued by Peter Wallerstein of Marine Animal Rescue on April 5, 2013 in Long Beach, California. All along the California coast, sea lions have been getting stranded in great numbers since January for reasons unknown. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration estimates that in the first three months of 2013, more than 900 malnourished sea lions have been rescued in the region compared to 100 during the same time period one year ago. Officials have declared an "unusual mortality event" for the California sea lion, a designation that prompts immediate federal response. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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¸LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 05: "RIP" is shown scrawled near a dead sea lion pup after it was found on Dockweiler State Beach on April 5, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. All along the California coast, sea lions have been getting stranded in great numbers since January for reasons unknown. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration estimates that in the first three months of 2013, more than 900 malnourished sea lions have been rescued in the region compared to 100 during the same time period one year ago. Officials have declared an "unusual mortality event" for the California sea lion, a designation that prompts immediate federal response. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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lLOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 05: Mike Remski of Marine Animal Rescue checks for any visible sign of injury after rescuing a malnourished sea lion pup on Dockweiler State Beach on April 5, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The sea lion pup, which weighed only 15 pounds, was transported to Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur for rehabilitation. All along the California coast, sea lions have been getting stranded in great numbers since January for reasons unknown. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration estimates that in the first three months of 2013, more than 900 malnourished sea lions have been rescued in the region compared to 100 during the same time period one year ago. Officials have declared an "unusual mortality event" for the California sea lion, a designation that prompts immediate federal response. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 05: A malnourished juvenile sea lion pup sits in a cage at White Point Park after getting rescued by Peter Wallerstein of Marine Animal Rescue on April 5, 2013 in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles, California. The sea lion pup, which weighed only 25 pounds, was transported to Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur for rehabilitation. All along the California coast, sea lions have been getting stranded in great numbers since January for reasons unknown. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration estimates that in the first three months of 2013, more than 900 malnourished sea lions have been rescued in the region compared to 100 during the same time period one year ago. Officials have declared an "unusual mortality event" for the California sea lion, a designation that prompts immediate federal response. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 05: A malnourished juvenile sea lion pup sits in a cage at White Point Park after getting rescued by Peter Wallerstein of Marine Animal Rescue on April 5, 2013 in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles, California. The sea lion pup, which weighed only 25 pounds, was transported to Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur for rehabilitation. All along the California coast, sea lions have been getting stranded in great numbers since January for reasons unknown. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration estimates that in the first three months of 2013, more than 900 malnourished sea lions have been rescued in the region compared to 100 during the same time period one year ago. Officials have declared an "unusual mortality event" for the California sea lion, a designation that prompts immediate federal response. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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„LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 05: Peter Wallerstein (R) of Marine Animal Rescue and volunteer Gayle Uyehara pick up a stranded and malnourished sea lion up from White Point Park on April 5, 2013 in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles, California. The sea lion pup, which weighed only 25 pounds, was transported to Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur for rehabilitation. All along the California coast, sea lions have been getting stranded in great numbers since January for reasons unknown. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration estimates that in the first three months of 2013, more than 900 malnourished sea lions have been rescued in the region compared to 100 during the same time period one year ago. Officials have declared an "unusual mortality event" for the California sea lion, a designation that prompts immediate federal response. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 05: A stranded and malnourished juvenile sea lion pup sits on the rocks of White Point Park waiting to get rescued by Peter Wallerstein of Marine Animal Rescue on April 5, 2013 in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles, California. The sea lion pup, which weighed only 25 pounds, was transported to Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur for rehabilitation. All along the California coast, sea lions have been getting stranded in great numbers since January for reasons unknown. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration estimates that in the first three months of 2013, more than 900 malnourished sea lions have been rescued in the region compared to 100 during the same time period one year ago. Officials have declared an "unusual mortality event" for the California sea lion, a designation that prompts immediate federal response. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)