Friday, January 8, 2010

Marine Mammal Center Adopt 'Stand Down' Strategy for Entangled Pier 39 Sea Lion

The Marine Mammal Center are changing their rescue strategy of the entangled Pier 39 sea lion as rescue efforts 'may be causing more harm than good,' center spokesman Jim Oswald said in the wake of another two failed rescue attempts today.
Instead of attempting to capture the animal, rescuers at Moss Landing, Monterey Bay, are going to 'stand down' and give the dehydrated and malnourished animal some space.

There have now been seven failed rescue attempts since the animal showed up at Moss Landing on Wednesday lunchtime, having swum nearly 100 miles from Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf. It was first  reported entangled in what looks like a fishing line at about 10 pm on Friday night.

The concern, said Jim Oswald this afternoon, is that the animal is becoming stressed by the rescue efforts. The sea lion is 'so cogniscent' of all that is happening, he said. A second concern is that the sea lion's escape antics are tightening the line around his neck and muzzle.

In evading rescuers, who made two attempts on Wednesday, three yesterday and two this morning, he is jumping out of nets and up and down from docks in the harbor.  Already, he is malnourished and dehydrated, said Jim.

The animal has been seen lapping sea water, a sign of dehydration. Whether the animal can open his muzzle enough to eat small fish is not known. If the animal is still at Moss Landing next week, efforts to capture him will be renewed on Wednesday or Thursday, said Jim.

The decision to 'stand down' has been taken in consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service who license the center, and veterinarians.

The Center will continue to monitor the Moss Landing Harbor and other areas. Video of the rescue attempts on Wednesday were filmed by CBS5 and the video has been posted on the center website along with their own photos.

Center Director, Jeff Boehm, has also written a public explanation of the reasons behind the center's decision to postpone making a rescue at Pier 39 until daylight on Saturday morning.

'Center staff elected to wait until morning to attempt to rescue the animal and that response surprised, angered and frustrated many,' he said, and goes on to explain the dangers and difficulties of animal rescues.

'In this situation, my staff responded in a manner that reflected concern for the animal’s best interests, and the safety of the Center’s volunteers and staff. In what was an important and critical assessment, compassion may have seemed lacking, but I can assure you it wasn’t. We care deeply about each stranded seal or sea lion that is reported to us—we wouldn’t be in this line of work if that wasn’t the case. I also want to assure you that the approach we take is based on 35 years of experience in rescuing and treating more than 15,000 marine mammals.'

For the full text of Jeff Boehm's response, further info + video:

Jeff Boehm's response can be accessed in the report titled 'Rescue efforts continue for three entangled California sea lions.'

pics taken for Marine Mammal Center and posted on their website:
sea lion sitting upright - Deborah Gabris; rescuer approaching the sea lion on the first day - Sherm Gloub ; sea lion on the dock - Sherm Gloub  

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