A stranded sea lion pup was rescued by animal care specialists near the Mission Beach boardwalk Saturday morning.
The small sea lion appeared to be stranded on the sand between a trash can and boardwalk wall near Zanzibar Court at around 7 a.m.
Beachgoers and residents reported the stranded animal to lifeguards who called for assistance from SeaWorld’s animal care rescue specialists.
When rescuers arrived, they put the pup inside a net in order to transport him to SeaWorld to receive proper care.
SeaWorld rescue specialist Heather Ruce said the baby sea lion looked dehydrated and underweight, but would likely recover just fine. The pup also appeared to have some sort of small injury to the eye, she said.
The rescuer said the pup “put up a good fight” when they were getting him into the net, which she took as a sign that the pup is strong.
“He’s going to make it,” she added.
Ruce said rescuers have been seeing a large number of stranded pups lately, mainly sea lion pups, but also some harbor and elephant seals.
“This has been happening quite often,” explained Ruce. “We’ve been seeing this a lot lately -- malnourished, emaciated, dehydrated, sometimes injured sea lions.”
Ruce said specialists have noticed a large number of pup rescues when the weather is rainy and the waves are choppy and rough. She said many pups become tired in the water and come up to the beach for a break.
While not all of them are in need of rescuing, Ruce said beachgoers should always be on the lookout and call animal rescuers if a pup appears to be in distress.
“If the animal has been out of the water for hours and seems lethargic, it’s probably a good indication that it needs to be rescued,” said Ruce.
Anyone who comes across a stranded sea lion or seal can call SeaWorld rescuers at 1-800-541-SEAL.