Two weeks after being found starving and hypothermic, a short and stout sea lion pup that managed to swim up a flood control channel to an intersection in Carson was recovering well on Monday at an animal rehab facility.
Sea lion No. 87, an 8-month-old female, was eating fish and playing with other sea lion pups at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, said David Bard, the center’s director.
No. 87 was brought into the center Feb. 10, weighing 25 pounds. A typical sea lion pup at that age can weigh up to 60 pounds.
She’s put on a few pounds after having switched from an all-liquid diet to fish, and is “sparring” with her pool mates, a big step forward for the animal.
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“It’s kind of like graduation,” said Bard, adding that before No. 87 is released back into the ocean, she must pass a series of tests, including whether she can hunt food on her own, a process officials said could take a month.
Animal rescue officials don’t know why the animal left the ocean, but they theorized that it was seeking food and warmth, said Peter Wallerstein, the director of rescues for the Marine Animal Rescue Center.
They also don't know how it got out of the flood control channel, but think that maybe it hobbled up an embankment and possibly made its way through a service road gate or fence.
"They’re just trying to get warm and find food," said Wallerstein, who has rescued nearly 100 sea lions so far this year, an uptick from prior years. "They’re not getting food they need."
There are over 100 sea lions living in Redondo Beach's King Harbor, Marina del Rey and the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Wallerstein said.
The animal garnered headlines when it left the ocean and possibly swam as much as 10 miles up the Dominquez Flood Control Channel to an intersection at South Avalon Boulevard and East Dominquez Street.
A motorist almost hit the sea lion pup at an intersection outside a Verizon store in Carson and reported it to authorities.
View Avalon Blvd & E Dominguez St in a larger map