4 sea lions, 5 seals released at Point Reyes

June 8, 2010 7:16:09 PM PDT
Tuesday was World Oceans Day and as the world watched the tragedy happening in the Gulf, experts reminded people of the threats to marine life elsewhere as pollution, climate change and overfishing are taking their toll.

For some mammals along the Northern California Coast including four California sea lions and five elephant seals, it was a day of second chances.

The animals were released back into Pacific waters at Point Reyes after being either caught in nets, seriously injuried, or malnourished. They were given medical care at Marin's Marine Mammal Center and are healthy again. It was fitting that their new adventure came on World Oceans Day.

"If we care about these patients, we need to care about their ocean home and need to own our own responsibility for caring for it," said Jeff Boehm with the Marine Mammal Center.

The Marine Mammal Center has a response team ready to go to the Gulf if they are needed there. So far, the spewing oil disaster has affected mostly birds, but a few sea turtles and dolphins have been found.

U.C. Davis professor Michael Ziccardi is in Louisiana where he has been overseeing rescue and rehabilitation. He told ABC7, by Skype, that two dolphins were found dead, but said he cannot pinpoint oil as the cause.

"We're also going to be submitting tissue samples to laboratories to determine if pHs or petroleum compounds exist within those tissues," he said.

There is a good possibility this is the case, because the government says plumes of oil do exist under the sea.

"The test results confirmed that there is oil sub-surface. We've always suspected that, but it's good to have confirmation," said NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco.

This means a larger catastrophe looms underwater because the Gulf of Mexico is a spawning ground for hundreds of species.

BP says it will donate money from selling recovered oil to wildlife protection in the region.


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