Animal Files

4 deaths and 14 rescues of pinnipeds last week alone

According to police records, four dead pinnipeds were reported to LBPD, spanning four days, Saturday, May 18 to Wednesday, May 15.

On Saturday, May 18, at 4:27 p.m., at the 30800 block of South Coast Hwy, a “dead harbor seal was pulled out of the ocean by the lifeguard tower.”

According to police records, Montage security was contacted to dispose of the marine mammal.

On Friday, May 17, at 12:39 p.m., at the 1900 block of Ocean Way, a person reported a deceased harbor seal to LBPD that was located on the sand at the bottom of the stairs.

According to police records, the “RP requested that Animal Services take the seal to Pacific Marine Mammal Center if possible.”

“PMMC does not normally respond to dead pinnipeds unless [under] special circumstances or they are tagged,” PMMC Public Relations Coordinator Krysta Higuchi said. “We did pick up the harbor seal on Friday for education purposes.”

Then, on Thursday, May 16, at 4:23 p.m., at the 30800 block of South Coast Hwy, a person reported a “dead baby sea lion, approximately 4 feet long, at the northern most part of Treasure Island Beach.”

And on Wednesday, May 15, at 3:19 p.m., at the 100 block of South Coast Hwy, LBPD received a report in reference to a “large, dead seal carcass, at the north end of the beach, 100 yards from where the rocks start.”

Animal Files sea lion rescue

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Courtesy of PMMC

A sea lion rescued by PMMC off the Newport Bell Buoy on Friday

“Sadly we have seen a drastic increase in rescues especially sea lions, unusually late in the season. We’ve rescued 14 sea lions in the last week alone,” Higuchi said. “After releasing 13 over the weekend, we seem to just keep getting more in.”

PMMC has rescued 137 so far in 2019.

“In 2018, we rescued 133 all year, Higuchi said. “We are on track to double our rescue counts from last year in particular in California sea lions, dolphins and harbor seals.”

Every animal costs roughly $3,000 from rescue to release; the uptake in rescues has definitely caused a strain on PMMC’s resources.

“We had five animals this week come in with fishing hooks or other severe entanglements. We are going through almost 500 pounds of fish a day which equates to about $1 per pound,” Higuchi said. “And that’s on top of medical needs, fluids, research and lab costs, cleaning and other general operating supplies and needs.”

Animal Files sea lion ICU

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Courtesy of PMMC

Zion, a sea lion rescued by PMMC Friday, is being taken care of in ICU

It’s been a strenuous 2019 so far, Higuchi reiterated.

“We are taking on more this year than ever before. We are diving deeper into our research and conservation, learning more about what each animal is coming in with, why, and how we can fix it,” Higuchi said. “We are also expanding our education and outreach programs.”

Donations greatly help fund PMMC’s rescue and rehabilitation efforts. Please call (949) 494-3050 to report a stranded animal or visit for more information or to make a donation.

-By Suzie Harrison