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Sea Lions Rescued in San Clemente Return to Wild

The animals were stranded and starving when they were found in February and March of this year.

Grace and Evanora. Photo by PMMC
Grace and Evanora. Photo by PMMC
The Pacific Marine Mammal Center announced this week it will be releasing two recovered California sea lion patients, Grace and Evanora, back into the wild this weekend. 

The two sea lions were found in San Clemente stranded and starving in February and March. They were part of the hundreds of malnourished and stranded sea lions who washed up on Orange County shores earlier this year, according to a press release from the center.

Starting in January, Pacific Marine Mammal Center witnessed an increase in sea lion pups coming ashore, suffering from severe malnourishment and starvation. Throughout January-April, PMMC responded to more than 340 rescue calls, the most ever received by the non-profit, the release states. At their peak this year, the center was housing and caring for 167 sea lion pups at once.

Grace was rescued on Feb 26 in such a critical condition that it took her more than 2 months before she was able to eat on her own. “Evanora” was a similar case, weighing just 22 lbs and suffering from starvation and lacerations on her face. 

“It was the most catastrophic event we’ve ever seen,” said Executive Director, Keith Matassa in the release. “We did everything we could to rescue each animal in need, and have been working tirelessly for the last 6 months to get them all well enough to return home.” 

Scientists are still trying to figure out what caused the mass stranding of sea lions, but PMMC focuses on the individual health of each animal they rescue. The organization has returned more than 120 sea lions back to the ocean, with many more still recovering at the hospital, according to the release. 

Each animal is tagged on its flipper with a small orange tag with a code number. This year, four animals were released with satellite tags to watch their travels in the wild, according to the release.

One of those patients, Roscoe, was tracked off the coast of Newport Beach, and later rescue teams found him to be in good health and at a healthy weight, the release states.

PMMC is still going through more than 300 lbs of fish a day, which adds significant cost to their animal care budget, according to the release. To give money to the center, visit its website at www.pacificmmc.org.

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