Sea Lion Impaled by Fishing Pole in La Jolla

A sea lion spotted Sunday was impaled by a long fishing gaff, one in a number of disturbing cases

A sea lion was found in La Jolla Sunday impaled by a long fishing gaff, a pole used to spear fish and flip them back into a fishing boat.

The 10-foot pole had a large hook on the end that was twisted about three inches into the sea lion's shoulder.

Staff with SeaWorld rescue used a net to capture the injured sea mammal and sedate it on Sunday morning. They then used a saw to cut through the fishing pole. Once they could maneuver the long pole, they were able to work it out of the sea lion's shoulder before transporting him to SeaWorld.

Video of the rescue was posted on Facebook by a member of La Jolla Friends of the Seals.

On Monday, the 200-pound male sea lion was on the mend.

"He's using that flipper, so that's great," said Kortney Sanders with SeaWorld. "It does look a little swollen, so he's getting some anti-inflammatory (medication) to help with that swelling, some antibiotics in case of an infection."

The biggest hurdle now is getting him to eat freshly thawed fish, she said. They hope to release him within the next week.

However, SeaWorld rescue teams say there has been an alarming number of what they call "human interaction cases."

Within the last year and a half, they have seen at least three similar cases involving the gaffs. At least eight sea lions have been shot in the past year, and many have had to be euthanized, SeaWorld says.

The cases have been reported to the National Marine Fisheries, but a spokesperson for that agency told NBC 7 the incidents are hard to investigate because it is difficult to determine when it happened and who is responsible.

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