Watch this sea lion pup chomp on fish after being rescued
A malnourished California sea lion pup is recovering after being rescued last weekend, when it wandered into the middle of Cabrillo Boulevard in Santa Barbara.
The Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol plucked the lost sea lion pup from the roadway about 10 p.m. Dec. 10.
The 6-month-old male was then handed over to the Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute on Dec. 11.
“He was mobile and found walking around in the street,” said Ruth Dover, CIMWI director of business operations. “It’s great somebody reported the animal quickly, and they were able to rescue it.”
The pup, known as No. 273, is about 10 pounds underweight for its age, Dover said.
A video posted on CIMWI’s Facebook shows the sea lion grabbing food with his teeth and chomping on a fish.
The rehabilitation process should bring him back up to 40 pounds, which is the average for a pup his age, Dover said.
“He’s relearning how to eat since he’s in a different environment,” Dover said. “He just needs to gain a little bit of weight.”
Dover said the pup could be with the organization for two to three months, depending on how long it takes to gain the pounds and potential health challenges along the way.
“These animals are wild, and our goal is to return them back to their environment,” Dover said.
Dover noted a majority of California sea lions are born in the summer.
More than half of the marine mammals are born in mid-June, according to The Marine Mammal Center. That means No. 273 would be celebrating his 6-month birthday this week, Dover said.
CIMWI also received another seal pup earlier this week.
The female, known as No. 274, was first spotted at the Channel Islands Boating Center in Oxnard.
She was surrounded by other sea lions.
On Wednesday, the pup was seen alone at the Channel Islands SportFishing Center, and then rescued by CIMWI.
Dover said CIMWI is “experiencing unprecedented reports of marine mammals in distress and is rescuing record numbers of pinnipeds.”
The nonprofit has rescued and treated 274 pinnipeds this year, which is six times more than its annual average before the “unusual mortality event.”
A majority of these animals are malnourished, dehydrated, immune-compromised and emaciated California sea lion pups associated with the unusual mortality event — which is defined under the Marine Mammal Protection Act as involving a significant die-off of a marine mammal population and demands an immediate response.
CIMWI is an organization dedicated to conservation through marine mammal rescue, rehabilitation, research and education to promote ocean and human health, Dover said.
It’s the only organization authorized to respond and rehabilitate seals and sea lions and rescue dolphins, porpoises and whales for Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
The organization is all volunteer aside from one seasonal staff position funded through a federal grant.
CIMWI’s facility is located at the former Vista Del Mar Union School campus in Gaviota.