SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - A sea lion pup found hiding under a car in San Francisco this week was "Rubbish," the same animal who had been found in the Santa Barbara area in February and released in to the Pacific Ocean after treatment, rescuers said Friday.
The pup, who lost 17 pounds while at sea, is the latest of thousands of sea lion pups to wash ashore in California this year, as warm water temperatures makes their food scarce.
“What’s scary is that we don’t know when this will end,” said Shawn Johnson, Director of Veterinary Science at The Marine Mammal Center in Marin County near San Francisco. “This could be the new normal - a changed environment that we’re dealing with now.”
Rubbish was taken to The Marine Mammal Center on Thursday, after passersby noticed him beneath a parked car at the corner of Marina Boulevard and Divisadero Street in San Francisco and called police and rescuers.
He had been treated at the Marin County center once before, after his rescue by the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center on February 8 when he was 8 months old.
At that time, he weighed just 30 pounds, rescuers said, and was treated for pneumonia and malnutrition. He was released into the ocean near San Francisco in March, after gaining 27 pounds.
The northern California waters are believed to have more fish for pups like him to eat, but Rubbish had lost most of that weight when he was found on Thursday, The Marine Mammal Center said.
So far this year, 2,800 sea lion pups have become stranded on shore on the U.S. West Coast, an unprecedented number, said Yvette Koth, a spokeswoman for The Marine Mammal Center in Marin.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento; Editing by Lisa Lambert)