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Samhain the Sea Lion Has a Reason for a Celtic Celebration!

California sea lion patient "Samhain" looks around at his temporary digs at The Marine Mammal Center.
© Dina Warren - The Marine Mammal Center


It was a quick turnaround for Samhain, a male subadult California sea lion, rescued on a public dock near the Santa Cruz Warf on October 31, 2011 – just in time for Halloween and the Gaelic harvest festival that he was named for! The Center’s Monterey Bay Operations (MBO) team, led by field manager Sue Andrews, made a difficult rescue seem easy for the seemingly entangled, 209-pound, four-foot-long pinniped.

Samhain was found on a public dock that was completely fenced-in, and Andrews’ team had the additional challenge of negotiating around five other wild subadult sea lions – all aggressively alert. Much training and experience helped the MBO team expertly encourage the extra sea lions through an opening they created with their herding boards. They then quickly corralled the injured marine mammal into a large transport carrier and immediately drove him to the Center’s main hospital facility in Sausalito for treatment.

Medical staff take a close look at the wound around Samhain's neck.
© Dina Warren - The Marine Mammal Center


On November 1, veterinarians from the Center sedated Samhain and conducted a thorough medical exam. Even though Samhain had a large, infected entanglement wound encircling his neck, the team found no actual “entanglement.” Given Samhain’s overall good body condition, veterinarians suspect that whatever was causing Samhain’s terrible wound must have only recently come off – a very rare occurrence. The team cleaned and treated his wound, administering strong long-lasting antibiotics to fight infection and promote quick healing.

"Samhain" heads back out to the ocean at Rodeo Beach,
© Neha Gidvani - The Marine Mammal Center


The next day, blood work indicated that Samhain was otherwise healthy, so veterinary staff determined that he could be quickly released, minimizing human contact.  Animal Care volunteers and a small group of beachgoers at Rodeo Beach watched in awe as the sea lion made his way to the sparkling ocean. It was indeed a happy Celtic festival for Samhain!



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