While she is not out of the woods yet, the sea lion pup nicknamed “Marina,” rescued last week (Thursday 4th Feb 2016) remains in stable and guarded condition at SeaWorld. Veterinarians and animal care specialists at the marine park are cautiously optimistic about her recovery. The young pup, found extremely malnourished, dehydrated and suffering from an unknown eye injury, is being cared for at the park’s Animal Rescue Centre, along with dozens of other rescued sea lions and seals. Marina has gained nearly 2kg (she now weighs 11kg almost of the same as a Brompton bicycle) and is improving gradually. Bloodwork results are encouraging, showing some inflammation, but nothing too worrisome and no other signs of infection or illness. As with all the animals in SeaWorld’s Rescue Program, the goal is to rehabilitate her and return her to the wild, giving her a second chance at life.
Background - On Thursday 4th February, SeaWorld got a call on the Rescue Hotline that there was a sea lion in the dining room of the popular Marine Room restaurant, which is located right on the sand of La Jolla Shores in San Diego. SeaWorld’s Rescue Team arrived at the restaurant to find the sea lion asleep in one of the booths. Upon bringing her back to the park’s Animal Rescue Center, the marine mammal weighed in at 9kg, about half of what she would weigh. Animal care specialists immediately began a rehydration process. The sea lion is also being given oral and topical antibiotics, and is being fed a liquid formula made with fish, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. Whole fish will be introduced as soon as she is able to process it.
Due to high tides, El Niño and an ongoing Unusual Mortality Event with California sea lions, SeaWorld is continuing to see a higher-than-normal number of strandings on local beaches. The younger animals are finding it difficult to find food and become emaciated. Their hydration comes from the fish they eat, so when they are malnourished, they then become dehydrated. Dehydration makes it more difficult to regulate their body temperature. This is when they seek food and a warm, dry place.
So far this year, SeaWorld San Diego has rescued 60 marine mammals (53 sea lions, six harbor seals and one Guadalupe fur seal). In 2015, SeaWorld rescued 1,057 marine mammals (990 of which were California sea lions).