I recently saw an article celebrating the return of four sea lions to the ocean. They had been picked up along the pacific coast within the last couple of months. The sea lions were malnourished and dehydrated when found, but the workers at Sea World San Diego were able to restore them, before releasing them back into the wild.
The article had great news, but it left me with so many questions! Why did the sea lions wash up on the beach like that? Does this happen often? Who is rescuing them? I turned to the internet to find out.
Sea lions, like seals and walruses, are pinnipeds, aquatic mammals with finned or flippered feet. They inhabit all the world's ocean's except for the Atlantic, ranging in from chilly sub-arctic waters to warm tropical parts. They feed on a diet of squid and fish, favorites being salmon, hake, and dogfish. Because of their intelligence, they are frequent attractions at circuses and sea parks. Some sea lions have even been trained to work with the US Navy.
Sea lions engage in a pinniped behavior called hauling-out, which means leaving the water for shore. Their preferred haul-out sites are rocky shores or sandy beaches. Groups of sea lions have many haul-out sites, which they use for rest and predator avoidance, among other things. Rookeries aren't just any haul-out site; sea lions choose only a few of these sites for use as breeding grounds.
A beached animal is one that is unable to swim free from a beach. Every year, a few pups get swept off the beach during heavy surf. Sometimes newly weaned pups are unable to feed themselves. Those pups suffer from malnutrition, and aren't strong enough to leave the beach. Sea lions can also become stranded due to sickness, injury, parasites, bad weather, or ocean conditions.
If someone spots a beached sea lion, they can contact the Marine Mammal Center at 415-289-SEAL. People should not approach stranded sea lions, or throw water on them, or even get within 50 feet of them. Just call, and trained rescuers will come help.
After the animals are rescued, they are generally fed and nursed back to health before being released back into the ocean.
Sea Lions on Live Camera!!
While not really a resource, watching this made me happy. The sea lions are having a good time, and the sound of the ocean is very relaxing.