Environment

Sea lions return to ocean home after being rescued from SLO County beaches

Two San Luis Obispo County sea lions were released back into the ocean near San Francisco on Sunday, weeks after they were rescued from the Oceano Dunes area.

Cocokay was rescued July 18, and Campertee was rescued July 25, according to the Marine Mammal Center. Both sea lions had been experiencing domoic acid toxicity, which can cause brain damage, seizures and death in sea lions. Symptoms include disorientation and a distinctive “head-bobbing.”

In recent weeks, dozens of sick sea lions have been rescued along SLO County’s shores. The illness is caused when an animal ingests small fish such as sardines and anchovies that have eaten toxic algae. The cause of the algae blooms, the root of the problem, is not known. One factor may be warmer water, but it could also be linked to an increase in fertilizer run-off into the ocean.

The Marine Mammal Center, which rescued and rehabilitated the sea lions, is a Sausalito-based nonprofit veterinary research hospital and education center dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of ill and injured marine mammals.

The center advises people who see a sick sea lion not to approach it. Instead, call the Marine Mammal Center’s hotline at 415-289-7325.

Gabby Ferreira: 805-781-7858, @Its_GabbyF

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