SeaWorld San Diego’s Rescue Team gave a one-year old male sea lion pup a second chance at life after he was found at Encinitas, California on Tuesday, 28 May 2019 with his head stuck in a diver’s swim mask.
It was estimated that the swim mask had been wrapped around the sea lion’s neck for several weeks. The mask was already preventing the pup, who weighed only 32 pounds (14.5kg) and was significantly malnourished and dehydrated, from foraging and eating. The normal weight for a sea lion pup his age is 55 to 65 pounds (25 to 30kg). The pup would have eventually starved or would have been strangled by the mask.
The SeaWorld Rescue Team was able to cut the mask off on the beach, but saw that the wound on his neck caused by the mask was infected. The sea lion was brought back to SeaWorld’s Animal Health and Rescue Center, where senior veterinarian, Dr. Todd Schmitt, treated the laceration and provided him with a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Other than the neck wound and malnourishment, the pup appears to be in generally good health. The park’s veterinarians and the animal care staff will continue to monitor the pup during his rehabilitation and hope to return him to the ocean in the next few months.
The goal of SeaWorld’s Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program is to return rescued, nursed-back-to-health animals to the wild for a second chance at life. Nearly 70 percent of the marine mammals rescued by the park are returned to the wild. So far in 2019, SeaWorld San Diego has come to the aid of 481 ill, injured or stranded marine animals (126 California sea lions, six harbor seals, 16 northern elephant seals, eight fur seals, four dolphins, one sea turtle and 320 marine birds). The SeaWorld rescue team has helped more than 34,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.