Sea lion found near Lake Merced released into wild

A sea lion dubbed an ambassador for other lions washing up on California beaches this season was released back into the ocean Monday, officials with The Marine Mammal Center said.

Marine Mammal Center officials released Percevero back into the water Monday at Chimney Rock, Point Reyes National Seashore. Center officials also released six other sea lions into the ocean at the same time.

National Park Service Ranger Matt Wallat rescued Percevero Feb. 11, 2015, after the sea lion crossed state Highway 1 in San Francisco. Percevero was emaciated, dehydrated and weighed only 13.5 kilograms. Wallat was on hand for Monday’s release, and said in a statement:

“It’s very gratifying to see Percevero and the other sea lions get a second chance to live healthy and productive lives in the ocean. … We need to keep in mind the tremendous work that goes into their rehabilitation must be matched by our efforts to protect our environment.”

Percevero received fluids and tube feedings of fish mash and antibiotics for mild pneumonia and a dewormer for intestinal parasites. Percevero doubled in weight to 27 kg during his treatment and showed his caregivers that he can feed himself. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials said waters north of the Golden Gate Bridge are cooler now and fish are in the area, giving the seven sea lions a good chance at life.

More than 2,000 sea lions have washed up on California beaches this season. The Marine Mammal Center receives 10 to 15 new animals each day and has responded to more than 780. That compares with 146 at the same time last season.

The center’s director of veterinary science Dr. Shawn Johnson said in a statement:

“The sea lions are telling us that our ocean is not healthy and we need to pay attention.”

Marine Mammal Center officials said the best way for the public to help in this immediate crisis is to donate at www.marinemammalcenter.org/donate. Center officials want to remind the public to avoid approaching, touching or removing a stranded marine mammal. It is unsafe and illegal.

Officials are asking the public to call the 24-hour rescue hotline when they see a marooned sea lion and provide an exact location. The hotline number is (415) 289-SEAL (7325).