The first release of the new year took place on Friday, January 3, when three California sea lions returned home to the ocean at Rodeo Beach.
January 6, 2014
Watching an animal return to its natural habitat, after it has been brought into the Center for treatment and nursed back to health, is a truly moving experience. More than 125 friends and supporters were on hand to watch this dramatic event, the first release of the new year.
Three large carriers were wheeled down to the beach and lined up in a row, facing the crashing waves and salty sea air of the Pacific Ocean.
One by one, the carrier doors were opened up. Maryland was the first to go out and she made a beeline for the surf, barking all the way. She was rescued in early November, at Morro Strand State Beach near San Luis Obispo. She was found to be lethargic and malnourished, with a small wound on one side of her chest. Upon examination, she was found to have fractured ribs on one side, which had caused one of her lungs to collapse. Maryland spent two months at the Center, recovering from her injuries until she was ready to return home.
Next out the gate was Scoggins, a very large (360 pounds!) adult male who was rescued at Marina State Beach near Monterey, on the day after Christmas. He was found in a lethargic state, surrounded by holiday crowds who were not aware they shouldn't be approaching a marine mammal. He was diagnosed with domoic acid toxicity, a disease caused by a biotoxin that accumulates in algae blooms. After a week of treatment at the Center, including rigorous testing of his overall health, Scoggins was deemed to be ready to return to the big blue.
Scoggins dashed out of his carrier toward the ocean, but stopped short right at the surf line. He sat down and assumed a regal pose, as if he were enjoying the adulation of the crowd. Then as the waves began to lap up around his flippers, he slowly made his way into the ocean and disappeared into the deep blue sea.
The last of the released animals was Cerrito, who got his name from his rescue site. He was found in Cerrito Creek in Richmond, lethargic and acting strangely. Cerrito was approaching people in the parking lot of a nearby mall, an unusual behavior that is often a symptom of domoic acid toxicity. When he was brought into the Center, a physical exam confirmed that he had domoic acid toxicity. He was treated with medication and given a little R & R before he was deemed healthy and able to return to the ocean.
The crowd at Rodeo Beach was elated to witness such a heartwarming homecoming for the three sea lions. Returning marine mammals to their natural habitat is the ultimate goal of The Marine Mammal Center. We rely heavily on the support of people who share our desire to see a healthier ocean environment for these animals. Consider starting the new year off on a positive note by making a donation to help us heal our seal and sea lion patients!
Watch a video of Scoggins returning home at Rodeo Beach:
Learn about: California sea lions
Read more about: Domoic Acid Toxicity
Learn how you can: Get Involved Help Marine Mammals!