L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Category: Seals & Sea Lions

Injured sea lion seen near Sacramento River on Wednesday is still missing

Sea lion A sea lion with an eye injury has been eluding rescuers since it was sighted near the Sacramento River on Wednesday. Rescuers haven't seen the animal since, says an article from the Sacramento Bee.

The sea lion was sighted on a dock near Old Sacramento's Tower Bridge, but slipped into the river after volunteers gauged that the dock was too small to safely net the animal.

Based on photographs that observers took, Jim Oswald, a spokesman for the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, guessed that the injured sea lion is a male weighing between 350 and 500 pounds.

Oswald and other volunteers traveled to Sacramento on Wednesday hoping to help the marine animal, which appeared to be injured near its right eye. According to the article, the Marine Mammal Center's volunteers have helped many sea lions during 1,500 marine animal rescues this year.

Despite the sea lion’s disappearance, Oswald remains optimistic about the animal's wounds.

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Pamela Anderson launches anti-seal hunt ad campaign for PETA in Toronto

Pamela Anderson and a seal in Toronto

Former “Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson wants to save the seals from the annual hunt on Canada’s East Coast.

The Canadian-born actress has joined other celebrities who are taking part in a new ad campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Anderson, who was in town to launch her animal-friendly clothing line at Fashion Week, visited the Ontario provincial legislature on Friday to introduce the new ads.

The ads — showing celebrities wearing white T-shirts with a drawing of a baby seal — also feature singers Sarah McLachlan and Kelly Osborne, actresses Jennie Garth and Jorja Fox, and gossip blogger Perez Hilton, among others.

Anderson’s ad reads, “What do I have in common with Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and the Dalai Lama? We all oppose the massacre of baby seals. It’s time to end Canada’s shameful slaughter.”

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Your morning adorable: Sea lions are artists at Oregon Coast Aquarium

Sea lion painting

Jen DeGroot, a marine mammologist at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, was looking for enrichment activities to keep her sea lion charges stimulated and challenged.  The idea she came up with -- "sea lion art" -- has become such a hit with visitors that the aquarium now sells pinniped paintings in its gift shop.

The aquarium's two "artists in residence" are Lea (pictured), a 20-year-old female, and Max, a 19-year-old male. DeGroot had previously worked in an aquarium that enlisted penguins with paint-covered feet to walk across a canvas, so teaching sea lions to make flipper prints seemed like a logical thing to do.  Still, DeGroot says, the skill of pressing flipper to paper is a unique one for sea lions.

"To this day, I think we are the only people who have trained a sea lion to do a flipper print," DeGroot told the Portland Oregonian. "Each sea lion flipper has distinctive markings just like a human fingerprint and it's really neat to see the detail in the print. It is pretty unique."

Not only are Lea and Max trained to touch their paint-covered flippers to paper -- they've also learned to paint by means of a paintbrush with a special attachment that allows them to hold it in their mouths.  See one of Lea's creations after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Rescued seal pup relaxes by the pool


The Marine Mammal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program, part of the Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia, has cared for more than 2,000 needy animals in its 40-plus years of operation. 

In a typical year, the rescue center sees about 100 sick or injured animals, most of which are young harbor seals. In addition to the harbor seal pups, the center's charges have included sea otters, dolphins and orca whales.

This seal pup is one of the lucky creatures rescued by the center's staff; it will remain there until it's healthy enough to be rereleased into the wild. In the meantime, it certainly looks content relaxing by the pool.  (If we were more advanced Photoshop users, we'd superimpose a mai tai next to its flipper.)

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Darryl Dyck / Associated Press

Your morning adorable: Rescued seal pup prepares to return to the wild


Wildlife rescuers at a seal station in the northern German municipality of Norddeich typically rescue between 30 and 80 orphaned or abandoned seal pups each year.  This year is no different; the Norddeich station has taken in about 70 young seals, which wouldn't be able to survive on their own.  At the station, rescuers care for the pups until they're old enough to be released into the wild.  (Here in Southern California, the California Wildlife Center fulfills a similar role.)

This year, one of the lucky pups rescued at the station is Kalli, above, a harbor seal. She and four other pups are ready to return to the wild; they'll be released today in the North Sea. 

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Joerg Sarbach / Associated Press

Amorous sea lion dies of exhaustion

Sea lion Mike in an undated photo.

A male sea lion at the Nuremberg, Germany, animal park has died from exhaustion after an extended mating session.

According to an article in the London Daily Mail, Mike, a 19-year-old California sea lion, died from acute heart failure after a morning of repeated mating with the three females in his enclosure at the Nuremberg Zoo.

"Mating season is a common time for fatalities when bulls often stop eating for days to devote themselves fully to mating," the park said in an statement. "For sea lion bulls with a harem, this is the most exhausting time."

The mammal began showing symptoms around midday, when he could no longer get out of the pool and was brought ashore by staff.

Despite treatment from a veterinarian, the animal died hours later.

"He will be remembered fondly by visitors of the animal park," the statement said.

Mike is survived by 12 offspring, which are in zoos throughout Europe.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Sea lion Mike in an undated photo. Credit: Nuremberg Zoo

Sea lion takes the wheel of Orange County sheriff's deputies' boat; hilarity ensues

Two Orange County sheriff's deputies had no idea what was in store for them when they went to investigate a report of marijuana-smoking juveniles on a dock in Newport Harbor last month. The deputies, James Slikker and Tracy Sizemore, went by boat to investigate. When they returned to their boat after the call, they encountered a young sea lion snapping at people on the dock.

Slikker and Sizemore lured the sea lion onto their boat, planning to release it in a safe area away from people. But, as the Orange County Register reported, what the sea lion did next made executing this plan decidedly difficult.

While the deputies were in the boat's main control area, the sea lion apparently wandered into the foul-weather station, which has a secondary steering wheel and set of controls. In short order, the boat's emergency lights, deck lights and various other equipment began turning on and off, and the deputies noticed the boat seemed to be steering itself. When they went to investigate, they found the sea lion in the driver's seat "randomly flipping switches," sheriff's spokesman John McDonald wrote on the department's blog. "He tried to bite the Deputies when they attempted to shoo him away. They managed to bring the boat to Marine Operations Headquarters despite the unruly sea lion."

Once at their headquarters, Slikker and Sizemore sprayed the sea lion through the cabin's window with water from a hose on the dock in an attempt to get it to leave the boat. Eventually, it ambled out of the cabin, crossed the dock and jumped into the water. (Slikker was sure to take pictures because, as he told the Register, "I thought, 'No one is going to believe this.' ")

-- Lindsay Barnett

Sea lion pup rescued on 880 freeway in Oakland

A wayward sea lion pup found himself in a bad part of town this morning -- the freeway -- before being rescued, the Mercury News reported.

Around 5:45 a.m. drivers began calling in a seal "walking around" in traffic, CHP Officer Peter Van Eckhardt said.

The sea lion was first reported near Park Street, and by the time Oakland police were able to find and pick it up, it had moved up to the 66th Avenue area of the highway, Van Eckhardt said.

"There's some estuaries around the Coliseum there," Van Eckhardt said. "It must have come up out of the bay into one of the drainage canals. They don't move very well on land."

The baby sea lion was taken to the Marine Mammal Center across the bay in Sausalito -- the very same Marine Mammal Center that our Travel section featured just a week ago in a report on the opening of a new facility there. The article mentioned that the center was housing "86 California sea lions, 41 Pacific harbor seals and 14 northern elephant seals." But now that number is closer to 87, unless the little pup decides to walk on the wild side sometime soon.

-- Tony Pierce

PETA calls for boycott of Canadian maple syrup to protest seal hunt

A PETA demonstrator dressed as a baby seal gestures during a protest at the Statehouse in Montpelier, Vermont.

It's one of the most unusual boycotts we've heard of: PETA is calling on Americans to stop buying Canadian maple syrup to draw attention to the plight of seals during Canada's annual seal slaughter.

The rationale, the group says, is to hit our seal-killing neighbor to the north where it hurts -- in the pocketbook. "Canada has ignored calls from around the world to stop the seal slaughter, but we're hoping that a plunge in maple syrup sales might get the government's attention," People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a statement, adding that "there's nothing 'sweet' about a country that condones the largest annual massacre of marine mammals on the planet."

Many thousands of harp seals, hooded seals and grey seals are killed every year in a hunt that Canada's Fisheries and Oceans department insists is "founded on sound conservation principles" and necessary to protect fish stocks. And, despite widespread outrage over the cruelty of the hunt, the Fisheries and Oceans department says it has taken steps to ensure seals are killed humanely -- if by humanely you mean "only by the use of high-powered rifles, shotguns firing slugs, clubs and hakapiks."

Fortunately for seals, several factors have led many to speculate that the annual hunt may soon be discontinued (even without a maple syrup boycott). 

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