Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sea Lion Rescue

"I've gotta hang up," I told my friend Ellen. "There's a stranded sea lion on the sand--or maybe a dog without any back legs." As I got closer, I saw a woman standing and watching. I considered, for a moment, that she might have brought her handicapped dog to the beach to play in the waves. The creature really did look like a dog, and she seemed attached to the animal in a way.

But it wasn't a dog. It was a sea lion pup, and the woman had already called some kind of hot line. I called harbor patrol, and they suggested that the animal might get back in the water and turn out fine if it didn't have any apparent injuries. I could call back later, they said--or I could call CIMWI. I had to ask the officer to explain what that was, and then googled it on my iPhone and called them. I got a recording and a referral to their rescue line where I  left a message.

The woman and I stood guard, cringing when seagulls swooped in to investigate the animal that was now sleeping on the sand. I'd seen gulls go for the eyes of dead fish--and sea lion carcasses, too. We watched as a couple of walkers got too close and scared the animal back into the water. I struck up a conversation with them, and told them what I'd read in the paper after all the strandings last year--that the animals were cold due to being malnourished and without enough body fat, and that they needed to be out of the water to get warm. Sure enough, the pup came back out again after floundering a bit in the water, and it scooted higher up on the sand.

The woman and I continued to stand watch. We flagged down a beach maintenance crew, crawling across the sand in their pick-up truck, emptying trash cans. They called a CIMWI volunteer who lived near the beach. Within minutes he was there. The photos show what happened next.

First signage and orange tape to warn beach goers to go around the animal in order not to startle it back into the water.

Then the arrival of a second rescuer. Equipment: plywood board with handle (used as a barrier), a net, and a kennel.

The netting goes smoothly.

And so does the placement into the crate.

This lucky pup will be examined for illness and injury, and if all goes well, released back into the ocean with a nice layer of body fat.


Ms. Moon said...

Ah love- you participated in the saving of a sea lion cub today. That is something.

Allison said...

Thank you for standing guard. Critters need a little help.

Elizabeth said...

I'm a teary fool tonight -- this post was perfection.