Rescue efforts continue for two sea lions entangled in ocean trash

The Marine Mammal Center continues efforts to rescue two California sea lions that are entangled in fishing line wrapped around their necks. The sea lions were spotted by citizens visiting Pier 39 in San Francisco in early July. One sea lion is about 2 to 3 years of age and weighs approximately 150 pounds; the other is a larger sub-adult, about 4 years of age and estimated to weigh around 200 pounds. The two have been resting periodically on the famous floating docks – a haven for many sea lions but also a challenging moving obstacle for rescuers.

Multiple rescue attempts have been made to capture these sea lions, but each has resulted in the pinnipeds diving off the bobbing docks and swimming away. These kinds of rescues are approached carefully because of the danger of further stressing the sea lions, and as a result, making the entanglement tighter. Chasing these animals can cause them additional stress and The Marine Mammal Center, along with the National Marine Fisheries Service, advises against such measures.

The sea lions have not been seen at Pier 39 since July 26, when the last rescue was attempted. For now, rescuers will wait and see if new reports come in of the sea lions hauling out somewhere, preferably on land where a more successful rescue effort can be made.

Earlier this year, the Marine Mammal Center rescued another entangled sea lion named Orseycorn and was able to remove the ocean trash entanglement, provide him with medical care, and release him back to the ocean. Another difficult sea lion rescue the center participated in was that of Abagnale in 2009. Both his mouth and neck were tightly wrapped in monofilament fishing line, most likely as a result of foraging. The team was finally able to capture him after 20 attempts.

Every year, approximately 8 percent of the marine mammals the Marine Mammal Center takes in have been entangled in ocean trash – usually fishing line and nets.