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Marine Animal Rescue is an organization dedicated to rescuing marine animals along the California coast. While this organization is no stranger to sea lion rescues, they have seen an influx of these animals in need because of warm water temperatures caused by El Niño conditions.
According to the group, sea lions prey retreat into deeper water when the surface temperatures are warm. Unfortunately, young pups aren’t able to make this journey and as a result, many are get stranded on land due to starvation. On top of their struggle to find adequate food, sea lions are also susceptible to being trapped in ghost fishing nets that have been lost or discarded in the ocean. When the nets are underwater, they’re nearly invisible to sea animals, making it easy for them to become entangled. According to Marine Animal Rescue, “Sea lions swim into the nets, and if they don’t die, they bite their way out only to leave some of the net remaining around their necks.”
Sadly, this has become an all too common sight for rescuers.
Peter Wallerstein from Marine Animal Rescue explained to One Green Planet that this is the start of their “busy” season. They recently saved six sea lions in a single day.
Sea lions who get trapped in ghost nets are left with deep wounds in their necks that need medical attention. Once rescued, they are brought to a rehabilitation center for help.
The staff is entirely committed to rehabilitating and releasing the animals in their care. “I’d say they have more than 70 percent chance on fully recovery and released,” said Wallerstein.
Sea lions are at the mercy of both the rising ocean temperatures and abandoned ghost nets, but thankfully, volunteers at Marine Animal Rescue are there to provide them with the help they need. To learn more about Marine Animal Rescue, visit their official website.
All image source: Marine Animal Rescue/Facebook