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Missile Toe - Sea Lion Survives Shark Attack

Not to be mistaken for the popular green holiday leaf, "Missile" Toe's name originates from the fact that our hospital used to be a Nike missile site during the Cold War.

January 31, 2013

Sad news to report - Missile Toe was found wandering in a parking lot in Sonoma County earlier this week - a very unusual area for any pinniped to be found. She was a mile away from the nearest irrigation canal and rivers and had crossed a road to end up in a field near a factory. A truck driver spotted her and called our rescue hotline - (415) 289-7325 - to report her. With the help of Sonoma County sheriff's deputies, the Center's rescuers were able to contain her and bring her back to our hospital.

She was exhibiting the tell-tale signs of illness as a result of domoic acid toxicity - a disease that in its advanced stages causes epileptic seizures that can destroy the brain and does not provide a quality of life for the animal to survive in the wild or in captivity. At the hospital, veterinarians confirmed that she had been suffering a series of epileptic seizures, indicative of a chronic form of this disease. They made the hard decision to humanely euthanize her on Wednesday.

Last year we rescued four sea lions, one harbor porpoise and 12 harbor seals in Sonoma County.

January 6, 2013

Missile Toe emerges from her travel carrier and looks around at Scotty Creek in Bodega Bay, CA.
© Stan Adnerson - The Marine Mammal Center
Missile Toe checks out the waves.
© Stan Anderson - The Marine Mammal Center

Missile Toe is swimming in the ocean and hopefully away from sharks! Our crew took her up to Scotty Creek in Bodega Bay where she was reunited with the ocean.

January 2, 2013

Missile Toe recovers from a shark bite injury.
© The Marine Mammal Center

Missile Toe is on the rebound! This adult female California sea lion was rescued by our volunteers based at Fort Bragg, on the Mendocino coast, on December 22, 2012 after she was found at the end of a parking lot at Navarro Beach with a rather large gash on her rear flipper. Veterinarians determined that the gash was the result of a shark bite.

Missile Toe was fortunate enough to have escaped the shark, but was also in need of some immediate medical help. Without it, her wound could easily become infected and she could loose her back flipper.

Thanks to a regimen of medicine to stave off any bacterial infection as well as a plentiful supply of herring, Missile Toe's flipper healed and she is much stronger and healthier. Veterinarians gave her an exit exam  today to make sure she was in good condition and could be released back to the ocean. Her prognosis looks good, so we expect to see her swimming in the ocean (and hopefully away from the sharks) very soon!



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