The sudden increase in the number of sick sea lions could be an indicator that an El Nino is coming, according to the Chron. Lots of sea lions are turning up skinny and ill on California beaches. The last time that happened was during the last El Nino in 1997 and 1998. El Nino is a warm-water current from the tropical Pacific that is best known for bringing heavy rains to the West Coast. An El Nino could be welcome news for California, which has suffered through three straight years of below-normal rainfall, and has left much of the state short of water and in danger of devastating wildfires. Scientists say an El Nino event is overdue. But the ocean phenomenon is also especially tough on sea lions and other marine species because it suppresses the upwelling of essential nutrients that produce abundant krill, fish and other aquatic life.