Injured sea lion finally caught at Moss Landing

January 24, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
An injured sea lion captured at Moss Landing Harbor Sunday after evading rescuers for almost a month has been named Abagnale after the main character from the movie "Catch Me If You Can," a Marine Mammal Center spokesman said.

"Frank Abagnale was always two steps ahead of authorities," as was the sea lion, center spokesman Jim Oswald said of the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

The adult male sea lion was first spotted at Pier 39 in San Francisco with fishing line tangled around his neck and mouth Jan. 1, and he resurfaced in Monterey County later that week, according to Oswald.

After weeks of trying to capture the animal, a team from the Marine Mammal Center tried a new method today of shooting darts at the creature containing an anti-anxiety sedative similar to Valium, Oswald said.

After the sea lion was hit with a second dart, he became tired and was successfully captured in a net around 1 p.m., he said.

"We're thrilled," he said of the team who finally managed to rescue the sea lion after many "disheartening" efforts.

"They had so many close attempts where they almost got the animal and then it swam off," he said.

The animal was being transported this afternoon to the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, where he will be given anesthesia before the entanglement is removed from his body, Oswald said.

After he is freed of the fishing wire, he will be treated for other medical problems, including dehydration.

"This is a malnourished animal," Oswald said. "He's going to be at the center for awhile."