The female sea
lion pup, nicknamed Marina, made headlines when she was
discovered huddled in a booth at the Marine Room, a
white-tablecloth eatery known for its gourmet seafood menu, in
She was one of many hundreds of sea lions, mostly pups, to turn
up starving and stranded along the California coast since last
year, apparently the result of warming seas that have disrupted
the marine mammals' food chain.
At the time of her rescue, Marina, then 8 months old, weighed
only about 20 pounds (9 kg), about half the ideal weight for her
age, and was suffering from an eye injury of unknown origin,
according to SeaWorld.
After being nursed back to health, her eye healed, Marina was
taken by boat, along with eight recently rescued and
rehabilitated sea lions to be returned home in the Pacific, 12
miles to 14 miles (19 km to 23 km) off the coast of San Diego,
Video footage of the event showed a sliding door being raised to
open a small pen holding Marina and another sea lion on the deck
of the SeaWorld vessel. With a little prompting, the pair
quickly waddled out of their enclosure and into the water.
"I was part of the team that rescued Marina, and really to see
how emaciated this pup was and knowing the odds were against
her, to be part of the team that returned her to the wild today
is an emotion that's hard to describe," stranded-animal
coordinator Jody Westberg said in the video clip, made available
"The thing I want everybody to know about Marina is she was a
feisty, sassy animal, and part of the success of her
rehabilitation was that effort and that energy Marina put
forth," Westberg added.
So far in 2016, SeaWorld San Diego says it has rescued more than
300 marine mammals. At about this time last year, a record 2,250
sea lions had been found stranded on Southern California beaches
since the start of 2015, federal scientists reported.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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