A sea lion pup found meandering around a ritzy San Francisco neighborhood Thursday morning has been taken to the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands for care — and it turns out he knows the place pretty well.
The pup was spotted under a car in the Marina neighborhood, adjacent to the bay, at about 7 a.m. at the corner of Marina Boulevard and Divisadero Street. San Francisco police were summoned and mammal center personnel arrived soon after.
The sea lion was put into a carrier and transported to the mammal center for assessment and rehabilitation.
It turns out the sea lion, dubbed “Rubbish,” is known to the center. The pup had previously been in the care of the center after being rescued by the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center on Feb. 8.
Rubbish was 8 months old and weighed just 30 pounds when he was rescued initially. Veterinary staff and volunteers at the center treated him for pneumonia and malnutrition, and helped return him to a healthy weight. After gaining 10 pounds, Rubbish was released at Point Reyes National Seashore on March 23. Point Reyes is a location that gives them the best chance at finding food.
After spending five weeks on his own, Rubbish lost approximately 10 pounds. Veterinary staff will do an exam to see if he has any underlying issues to cause him to come on land again. On average, fewer than 20 rehabilitated animals treated at the center re-strand each year.
Rubbish is one of thousands of California sea lion pups that have stranded along the coast of California this year. Experts say that warm waters along the West Coast have affected food availability for nursing sea lion mothers and newly weaned pups, according to the mammal center.
“What’s scary is that we don’t know when this will end,” says Dr. Shawn Johnson, director of veterinary science at the Marine Mammal Center. “This could be the new normal — a changed environment that we’re dealing with now.”