Attempt to rescue tangled sea lion fails

January 6, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Animal rescue workers are stuck waiting for their next chance to save an injured sea lion. They came close to catching one in the Wednesday afternoon at Moss Landing in Monterey Bay. The sea lion is tangled-up in fishing line, but they could not get him. Other sea lions in trouble have been spotted at Pier 39 in San Francisco, Hyde Street Pier in the city, and in Belvedere in Marin.

An injured male sea lion swam through Moss Landing Harbor during the afternoon. He was visibly injured with a visible fishing line and netting wrapped around his neck.

Volunteers from the Marine Mammal Center rushed to the harbor to rescue him, but he got away.

"We had one shot, one split second and he managed to get off the edge of our net and get back into the water," said Sue Andrews, from the Marine Mammal Center.

Rescuers hoped the mammal would stay inside the huge floating net for its own safety. Now that it has escaped, experts are not sure it will survive.

"Whatever that debris is, it's not going to stretch or biodegrade or fall off and he can't get it off," said Andrews.

At least three injured sea lions have been spotted in the Bay Area since Friday. One was seen Friday night at Pier 39 with its snout and neck entangled in fishing gear.

On Saturday, another sea lion was spotted at the Hyde Street Pier with injuries and on Sunday a third sea lion was seen off the coast of Belvedere in Marin County with debris related wounds.

"I've actually seen them with rips on their fins and everything. That's when I call, when they don't seem to move as fast," said Chaz Sanchez, a boat owner.

Volunteers will not chase the animal. They are waiting for another sighting before making another rescue attempt, but many boat owners are not sure they will be making that call.

"I'm an animal lover number one, but I do think there's an overpopulation," said Dave Knopf, a boat owner.

"These animals, just like everybody else, they live and they die," said Boston Samuelson, a boat owner.

The volunteers disagree and are willing to do what they can to save the sea lions.