SAN JOSE, Calif. — The population of California sea lions has tripled in the past 40 years to more than 250,000.

The Mercury News reports National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration biologists say in a study released last week that strict environmental laws to protect marine mammals have worked so well that California sea lions have become the first marine mammal that lives along the entire West Coast to recover to its natural carrying capacity.

The study says California sea lions — which range from Mexico to Alaska — have exploded in number, jumping from an estimated 88,924 in 1975 to 257,606 in 2014.

President Richard Nixon signed the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972, making it illegal to hunt, kill, injure or harass any marine mammal, including whales, seals, dolphins and sea otters.


Information from: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, http://www.mercurynews.com