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The Marine Mammal Center is a nonprofit veterinary hospital, research, and educational center dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of ill and injured marine mammals and the study of their health. Since 1975, the Center has rescued and treated more than 16,500 marine mammals and has accumulated a body of knowledge about marine mammal and ocean health. Through public education about marine mammals, the Center hopes to foster ocean stewardship and conservation. For more information, visit http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lucky Sea Lions Live to Swim Another Day!

Top left: Water Rescue Team members from The Marine Mammal Center embark on a rescue mission. Top right: Crew members assist an entangled sea lion. Photos: Sue Pemberton

Top left: A crew member carefully removes debris. Top right: Sea lion with visible wound from debris. Photos: Sue Pemberton

Last weekend a regularly scheduled Water Rescue Team outing turned into an adventure resulting in the successful rescue of two sea lions. With an above-average turn out of twelve members, the crew took to the water in search of sea lions in need of help. While many sea lions fall victim to entanglements caused by fishing gear and garbage, it is often difficult to rescue them.

The crew, lead by volunteer Sue Pemberton, surveyed the normal haul-outs and identified three animals in need of assistance. The first sea lion escaped despite efforts made by the crew. The second sea lion, found in an area know as the "Fight Club" by volunteers, was a sub-adult male sea lion hauled out on a rafter with a packing strap around his neck. The crew quickly strategized and decided to dispatch two people into the water. With one person positioning the net in place, the second person swam towards the animal, startling him off the rafter and into the net. The sea lion, weighing about 165 kgs, was too large to restrain; calling on the crew to remove the packing strap from the animal while it was in the net beside the boat. After successfully removing the debris, the sea lion escaped from the net and swam away.

Just when the crew thought they were done for the day, a call came in about another entangled sea lion! This time it was a smaller sea lion with debris wrapped around the top of his head. After being restrained by the team, the sea lion's wound was treated and a hard plastic gasket was carefully removed. He was tagged, measured and released. He was later seen hauled out under the Coast Guard pier. This was a great day for two lucky sea lions, who because of the work of dedicated volunteers, will live to swim another day!


Ethan said...

Awesome job with the water rescue!! That looks like hard work...but, worth it to rescue those sea lions!!

Jeff said...

Awesome Job! I visited the MMC today for a DVC class field trip and it was a great learning experience!