Rescuers take break from sea lion rescue efforts

January 8, 2010 6:16:49 PM PST
An animal rescue group spent another day at Moss Landing trying to capture an injured sea lion to no avail. Now, they are standing down.

If only the sea lion knew that in this case man is friend, not foe. The fishing line around his neck and mouth is strangling him and preventing him from eating.

"We saw him out in the water and having a hard time this morning," Moss Landing resident Donna Jensen said.

A team from the Marine Mammal Center carefully planned yet another rescue mission Friday. In attempt number one, would-be rescuers tried sneaking up in the water along the dock and to surround the sea lion with floating nets but the animal chose to jump off the dock and swim away.

Later, the sea lion returned to the same dock and it was tried again with no success.

"This animal is just too fast, too smart and too strong," Marine Mammal Center spokesperson Sue Andrews said.

The plight of the sea lion, his apparent travels from San Francisco to Moss Landing and the numerous attempts to rescue him has become a Bay Area saga.

The sea lion's following is growing and so is frustration.

"I just felt like last night they should just tranquilize it and take their chances because it's going to die if they don't do something," tourist Bob Gibbs said.

Experts say a tranquilizer gun is out of the question because the sea lion would immediately go into the water.

"Then if the tranquilizer did take effect, he would be an air breathing mammal asleep in the water and could drown," Andrews said.

Just as the would-be rescuers were about to give up they spotted the sea lion found in a more secluded area; but the day ended with strike three and other swim to freedom.

"I think it's great they are putting so much effort into because makes a difference because it's a man made cause and it's not a 'nature take its course' deal," tourist Carole Gibble said.

The Marine Mammal Center has decided to take a few days off from their rescue efforts because the maneuvers can be stressful to the animal and they do not want to aggrevate its injuries. They say the sea lion is not in any danger of dying.

The next rescue attempt may come sometime next week.