A sea lion tangled up in fishing gear was rescued using a rarely used method — a sedation dart, according to the SeaWorld rescue team.
The distressed adult female was spotted on the Quivira Basin bait barge in Mission Bay Monday evening, surrounded by fellow sea lions. Fishing line was digging deeply into the back of her neck.
With the permission of the National Marine Fisheries, the federal agency that oversees wild marine mammals, the rescue team injected the 156 ½ pound animal with a sedative.
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SeaWorld says it was forced to use sedation because of the mammal’s size and location.
As she relaxed, the team cut the fishing line off her neck and took her to the park’s rescue center as she rehabilitates.
There, caretakers discovered a neck wound above her shoulder blade, but aside from that, she is in good health, they say.
Park workers will monitor her for a few weeks until she is healthy enough to return to the wild.
This is the latest in what SeaWorld says is a disturbing trend of abuse against sea lions, whether intentional or not.
On Sunday, a 10-foot fishing gaff was found lodged in the shoulder of a sea lion in La Jolla – the fourth in a string of similar cases within the last year and a half.
In the past year, at least eight sea lions have been shot and many had to be euthanized, SeaWorld says.
The cases have been reported to the National Marine Fisheries, but a spokesperson for that agency told NBC 7 the incidents are hard to investigate because it is difficult to determine when it happened and who is responsible.