On Thursday, March 7, Carlsbad resident Doug was taking his daily 7:00 a.m. walk along the beach next to Carlsbad Boulevard. At the Agua Hedionda Lagoon’s outlet, just south of Tamarack Avenue, he spotted a young California sea lion appearing to be in distress, sitting on the large boulders. Others were looking at the pup as well.
Doug continued his walk toward the Carlsbad power plant, returning about 45 minutes later to find the sea lion was approaching the street. Together he and another walker named Neal corralled the pup, forcing him away from the street and back onto the rocks. The pup was probably trying to cross the highway to get into the lagoon.
The pup scampered along the shoreline boulders about 150 feet south of the bridge, where it stayed on the same rock for the next few hours. At 8:30 a.m., Carlsbad police responded and notified SeaWorld’s sea mammal rescue unit of the incident.
Oblivious to nearby beachgoers that stopped to look and take pictures, the pup seemed lethargic and in distress.
At 10:00 a.m., a surfer came in to let bystanders know that a larger sea lion, probably the mother, was out in the channel of the lagoon’s jetty, popping its head up, seeming as though it was looking for the pup.
Doug stayed near the animal until the rescue team from SeaWorld arrived at 10:25 a.m. The pup gave little resistance, other than barking at Keith, the director of SeaWorld’s sea mammal rescue center, when he placed the big net over the sea lion.
The rescuers said the pup was less than a year old, should have already been weaned from its mom, and was probably having trouble finding food in the water. The big waves during the previous day probably scattered his food source into deeper waters. The pup was probably malnourished, dehydrated, and hypoglycemic.
SeaWorld volunteers to rescue and rehab stranded sea mammals from the Mexican border to San Clemente. It was the team’s second recovery that morning, with two more calls in the queue. This year, SeaWorld has so far rescued some 85 sea lions, with around 50 currently being rehabilitated before their release back into the wild.