Public warning about stranded sea lions

Posted by on Fri, July 10, 2009

ŠLou Solitske
Emaciated sea lion stranded on the beach

We are in the midst of what appears to be a significant statewide  stranding incident involving mostly California sea lion yearlings. With heavy summer beach attendance, there is potential for injury, for beachgoers and their dogs. The animals are cute, pathetic to see, and don’t know not to bite a hand extended in kindness. In addition, they’re protected by law, by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and anyone attempting unauthorized interference with one could be subject to fines.

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary has posted notices in the Coastside area, and provided posters to the Pillar Point Harbor office since they have been getting so many stranding reports. The message is:

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and Pillar Point Harbor advise:

CAUTION: Sea Lion Stranding Advisory!

Sick and starving marine mammals are washing up alive and dead on local beaches.

TAKE CARE! These are stressed wild animals and can bite and transmit diseases to you and your pet.

Report strandings at once (24 hours):

Live seals/sea lions: Marine Mammal Ctr., 415/ 289-7325 (-SEAL)

Dead seals/sea lions: California Academy of Sciences, 415/ 379-5381

Last Sunday, during the Montara Beach cleanup, we spotted on wounded and three dead sea lions on the beach.  We called the Marine Mammal Center and they were there to help the wounded animal in less than 30 minutes.

Interestng the Marine Mammal people got there so quickly.  We found a malnourished sea lion pup which had crawled from the water, through the beach, up the bluffs and onto the trail around the Poplar area.  Marine Mammals was so inundated with requests that they actually said they couldn’t make it down to HMB.  We only have one volunteer here with the netting and the signs to make a space large enough to protect the mammal.
This one got spooked, but made it back to the ocean. It was actually just resting. I watched it swim through the shore break past the wave line to the area of the ocean where you typically see them.  It looked relatively strong.
The trick is to keep the people who don’t have dogs on leashes 200 yds away.
We need more folks to go for training at the Marine Mammal Center.

There were two more sea lions stranded today (8/2) south of Poplar Beach in an area where there were a number of people and unleashed dogs. The Marine Mammal Center team said they would try to come, but they were dealing with a number of strandings today. The MMC staff person said that each truck can only handle one sea lion, and this complicates matters. The HMB police were called in the hope that people and their dogs could be advised to stay away from the sea lions.

Sounds like a bad weekend. I got the following report from a friend:

I was out kayaking this afternoon - there were at least 8 dead sealion pups on the outer beach - Another bunch of really emaciated looking pups on the rockwall at the nortwest west gate. And some fat adults chasing anchovies in the harbor.