Coast Guard Cutter Pike to assist in release of sea lions near Catalina Island

SAN PEDRO, Calif. – Today, the Coast Guard Cutter Pike worked with personnel from the Marine Mammal Care Center to release two rehabilitated sea lions back into the wild off the coast of Catalina Island.

The first sea lion was rescued in January by members of the Marine Mammal Care Center. The female sea lion pup, about 6-7 months old at the time, weighed 33 lbs. She was found at Dockweiler Beach resting on coals in a fire pit. “When these animals are ill, like people, they will look for a warm, safe place to haul out and rest,” explains Jill Romano, a Director at the Marine Mammal Care Center.

The second sea lion was first rescued in November of 2008 when he was a five month old pup and weighed 38 lbs. He was found on El Porto Beach, and was admitted to the center malnourished, underweight and with scars of an older neck wound. The pup was rehabilitated and released in mid-January. He was found again only two weeks later at White Point Beach, San Pedro, lying under a car. He was admitted to the Care Center a second time weighing about 46lbs.

The Center teamed with the Coast Guard because the staff and veterinarian at the center believe the sea lion should be relocated further off shore to prevent future strandings. Additionally, the two are being released together as, “Sea lions are social animals and would adapt better if they were released together,” explains the Center’s staff.

Both of the sea lions are fully rehabilitated and have been deemed ready for release by veterinary staff at the center as well as the National Marine Fisheries Services. The sea lions are both currently at healthy weights between 75-90 lbs. When the center releases these animals back into the wild, they are tagged on their flippers with identification numbers so in the event they strand again or are found, their records are accessible from the hospital that treated them.

The Coast Guard Gutter Pike is an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Alameda, Calif., with many dedicated missions including search and rescue, maritime law enforcement and protecting living marine resources.

The Marine Mammal Care Center, located at Fort MacArthur, opened in 1992 and is a hospital for ill, injured and orphaned marine mammals. Their primary work is the treatment and release of rescued California sea lions, northern elephant seals, harbor seals and northern fur seals.

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