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Say “Aloha” to Pua, an Entangled Pup

A California sea lion found struggling in the surf near Santa Cruz, California, is rescued and disentangled from the potentially deadly monofilament fishing line wrapped around her neck.

April 2, 2014

Pua’s entanglement wound has healed significantly since she arrived at The Marine Mammal Center’s hospital a month ago. After a full release exam, our veterinary staff determined that she was healthy enough to return to her ocean home.

On March 28, Pua was released with three other young sea lion pups – Atlas, Caelum and Orbit – at Chimney Rock in Point Reyes National Seashore.

Pua Release Slide 01

Pua's entanglement wound is healing rapidly.
Photo credit: Pat Wilson © The Marine Mammal Center

Pua Release Slide 02

Pua sits in her carrier, awaiting her release.
Photo credit: Conner Jay © The Marine Mammal Center 

Pua Release Slide 03

Pua is released at Chimney Rock, Point Reyes National Seashore.
Photo credit: Conner Jay © The Marine Mammal Center 

Pua Release Slide 04

Pua makes her way to the surf line.
Photo credit: Conner Jay © The Marine Mammal Center 

Pua Release Slide 06

Pua is home at last.
Photo credit: Conner Jay © The Marine Mammal Center 

Pua Release Slide05

Pua is ready to return to the ocean.
Photo credit: Conner Jay © The Marine Mammal Center 

March 14, 2014

Sea lion pup Pua displays a deep wound from an entangled monofilament fishing line.
© Pat Wilson - The Marine Mammal Center


For a Hawaiian couple vacationing near Santa Cruz, California, a walk on the beach turned into a story to write home about when they spotted a young sea lion that appeared to be struggling in the surf. The couple called The Marine Mammal Center’s 24-hour hotline to report what they saw: a skinny sea lion with fishing line caught around its neck.

The visitors also flagged down Bill Wolcott, a supervising ranger for California State Parks. Wolcott says he could see the concern on the couple’s faces, but he didn’t believe the animal was entangled until he saw it for himself. The potentially deadly monofilament fishing line was wrapped around the sea lion’s neck, cutting into her skin.

This fishing line and other types of ocean trash pose a dangerous threat to curious animals like sea lions, who can end up entangled and strangled.

Luckily for the young sea lion—named “Pua,” which means “flower” in Hawaiian—help was on the way.

The Marine Mammal Center’s trained volunteers arrived at the beach and quickly assessed Pua’s condition and behavior. They knew right away that Pua’s visit to Pajaro Dunes was no vacation: She was malnourished, underweight and in poor health.

Monofilament fishing line that was wrapped around Pua's neck.
© Pat Wilson - The Marine Mammal Center

Pua was secured in a crate and traveled to our hospital in Sausalito. By the time she arrived, the fishing line had fallen off—Pua was free of her entanglement but still in poor condition.

During Pua’s admit exam, our veterinary staff noted that she had a cough and her lungs sounded “wheezy.” They started her on a regimen of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory pain medicine to treat pneumonia and the open entanglement wound around her neck. They also applied a topical treatment to the wound.

After nearly two weeks in our care, Pua is doing much better and her entanglement wound is healing. Our animal care experts say she has also been eating well and is gaining weight now that she is getting the nourishment she needs.

We’re hopeful that Pua will be able to return to her ocean home someday soon. With your support, we can continue to help marine mammals like her get a second chance at life.




Learn about: California sea lions

Read more about: Domoic Acid Toxicity

Learn how you can: Get Involved Help Marine Mammals!


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