Originally published on May 6th, 2011.
This season is already shaping up to be one of the worst seasons yet for sea lions, pelicans and other marine life suffering from domoic acid poisoning. This is a condition that occurs when fish eat algae that naturally blooms in the ocean. When sea lions, dolphins, pelicans and other marine animals ingest these fish, it creates a neurotoxin in their system which causes seizures. If the animal is rescued early enough, through treatment they can successfully recover and be reintroduced back into the ocean. Unfortunately others suffer from this often fatal condition.
If you encounter a sea lion, elephant seal, pelican or other marine animal on rocks, a guard tower, on the beach or out of the water DO NOT APPROACH THE ANIMAL. Contact a lifeguard immediately. Make note of the size, approximate weight, location and general condition of the animal. If a lifeguard is not nearby, call 1-800-39-WHALE to contact Marine Animal Rescue. Marine Animal Rescue is the only professionally trained and permitted organization that is able to drive a specialized vehicle on the beach to rescue sea life. Marine mammals are federally protected, and it is against the law to be within 50 ft of them even if stranded. Also, these animals, although very cute, carry a range of harmful bacteria to humans and dogs and have a very powerful bite. They consider humans to be predators and can strike quickly with great force if approached.
A sea lion that has frequented Marina Del Rey for years was rescued last year and has been cared for at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro. His story was featured on NBC as follows:
Imagine caring for a 750-pound bull sea lion who’s totally blind. That’s what staffers at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro are doing, as they try to find him a permanent home.
The sea lion’s name, appropriately enough is “Big Guy,” and because of his blindness, he can’t be released back into the ocean.
“Big Guy” was first brought to the care center more than a year ago, suffering from both his blindness and a large gash in his mouth. He’d been found on a Santa Monica beach.
The care center staffers are hoping that a zoo, aquarium or other facility will take him.
If you’d like to make a donation to help the center continue providing care for “Big Guy,” you can find out how by going to the center’s website at marinemammalcare.org.
The staffers say you can also stop by the center and drop off a donation. The address is 3601 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro. You can also call the center at 310-548-5677.