Sea Lions Head to Sea World After Rescue Center Fills to Capacity

Sea World San Diego will take in local rescued sea lions after San Pedro's Marine Mammal Care Center fills to capacity.

Seven California sea lions and one Guadalupe fur seal from the Marine Mammal Care Center were brought to SeaWorld San Diego for rehabilitation Monday after the San Pedro based care center reached capacity, SeaWorld announced Tuesday.

The sea lions and seal were transported Monday from the Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort McArthur, which has seen record amounts of stranded sea lions brought to its doors during the first two months of the year.

Jeff Hall, the Marine Mammal Response Coordinator with the California Wildlife Center said that so far, the number of sea lions his organization has rescued and brought to the Marine Mammal Care Center has been higher than average.

In the first two months of 2013 alone, Hall said that the California Wildlife Center has rescued more than 50 stranded sea lions compared to the 120 sea lions they rescued over the course of an entire year in 2012.

Hall said the exact cause of the increase is still unknown.

"There is the possibility that it is a population adjustment because their numbers have been increasing over the past few years," Hall said. "It might just be that we are getting to the caring capacity of this area and not every animal can make it if there is not enough food out there or too many animals all competing for the same amount of food."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also speculated that the marine mammals might be having trouble finding food. Many beached sea lions have been found malnourished and dehydrated, SeaWorld said.

Hall also added that while the numbers of stranded sea lions are very high for the first two months of the year, he expects things will slow down and hopefully average out in the coming months.

The Marine Mammal Care Center is one of only three rescue centers in the Southern California area and takes in almost all rescued marine mammals found in Los Angeles County, Hall said. The Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach and SeaWorld San Diego serve as the two other rescue centers south of Los Angeles.

SeaWorld officials said they plan to take care of the newly arrived marine mammals until they are ready to return to the wild.

For those wishing to donate to the Marine Mammal Care Center, monetary donations are accepted at marinemammalcare.org/donations. Other needed supplies, such as Karo Syrup, paper towels and other items are also accepted at the center.

If a stranded sea lion or marine mammal is found in Los Angeles County, officials said to not approach the animal and instead call California Wildlife Center's emergency hotline at 310-458-WILD (9453).

—City News Service contributed to this report.


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