Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Rescuers Extract Injured Sea Lion from Mendocino’s Portuguese Beach Now Bound for Rehabilitation

Rescuers hoisting the sea lion up the bluffs of Portuguese Beach [Picture provided by Robert Dominy]

Experts from Sausalito, California’s Marine Mammal Center collaborated with the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department today to extricate an injured California sea lion from Mendocino’s Portuguese Beach. Marine Mammal Center spokesmen Giancarlo Rulli said the sea lion is currently being transported to Sausalito suffering “multiple facial injuries” and will be examined tomorrow “to determine age class, sex, overall condition, examine its facial injuries and check for any other health abnormalities.”

Rulli told us the Marine Mammal Center was initially informed of the injured sea lion yesterday evening and was found in the same location this morning.

The bluffs proved too steep for rescue vehicles brought by the trained responders so the Marine Mammal Center reached out to the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department to provide support. “The Fire Department assisted our experts in the rescue by utilizing extraction gear to safely hoist the large metal rescue carrier with the sea lion secured inside from the beach,” explained Rulli.

Associate Director of the Field Operations and Response Program at The Marine Mammal Center Ryan Berger said, “This was both a unique and challenging rescue situation for this injured California sea lion that required medical attention.” He added, “Our team is grateful to our partners at the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department for their assistance in this response to help give this animal a second chance at life.”

Rulli provided the following best practices to beach-goers when navigating sea-faring animals:

As Mendocino County sees increased crowds to its beautiful coast and beaches, The Marine Mammal Center would like to remind the public that they play an important role in the conservation of marine mammals along the central coast by keeping these marine wildlife viewing tips in mind:

  • Keep A Safe Distance. Whether on the water viewing marine life or walking with your pet on local beaches, a great wildlife viewing experience starts with keeping your distance and keeping pets on leash.
  • Use Your Zoom. It’s ok to take photos and admire the animals, but if you’re so close that you’re not using your zoom or they’re reacting to you, then you’re too close. No SEAL-FIES please!
  • Call Us. If you see a seal or sea lion in distress, call The Marine Mammal Center’s rescue hotline at 415-289-SEAL (7325). The Center will monitor the animal and, if necessary, send a trained responder to rescue it safely. 
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  1. About 18 years ago, when I was teaching Marine Biology down on Monterey Bay, literature at the time stated that California Sealions were at or near carrying capacity for the environment and were at or near historic numbers. I also noticed that at the time, the Marine Mammal center was not working with Sea otters as sea Otters were endangered and facing many more threats than Sea Lions. So I was curious as to why they spent so much money on an animal doing fine in the wild. So I asked the Person from the Marine Mammal Society why they did not work with Sea Otters? They stated that they had never had success with them and did not rescue them because of the lack of success. I then asked why they rescued an animal at carrying capacity for the environment. If they saved an animal and then released it, another animal died to maintain balance, so what was the point. He responded that every animal deserved a humane response. I asked, “So why don’t you try to help Otters?” his response again was, “We don’t know how to do that.” It was baffling to me that they were unwilling to learn how to care for otters who needed much more help. I do not know if they help otters now or not does anyone know?

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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