November 1, 2011
Recently, volunteers from our San Luis Obispo operations rescued a young California sea lion that had stranded on Morro Rock in Morro Bay, CA. At the hospital, animal care volunteers and veterinary staff noticed something unusual about him; he wobbled as he walked on land! During the admit exam, veterinarians noticed that Sarow, as he was named, had a pellet in his head as a result of a gunshot. Additionally, they noticed that he had a gas bubble that formed near his brain. Was the gunshot wound responsible for causing the bubble making him wobbly on land? Marine mammals, such as seals, sea lions, dolphins and whales, have an incredible ability to dive deep depths (sometimes as much as 1,500 feet) and resurface easily - regulating the air pressure that allows them to not become injured or sick from such actions. Humans cannot do this naturally! They have to wear diving suits and oxygen tanks to overcome “the bends” when they resurface after such dives.
It’s too early to tell if the bullet was the cause of this gas bubble formation, or if something in the environment caused this. It’s also unknown right now if Sarow can overcome this condition and be returned to the ocean. For now, Sarow continues to do well eating herring and is under medication for pneumonia. He will receive an MRI to determine if other medical issues, such as domoic acid poisoning, may be a factor in the bubble creation.
Animal Planet’s Jeff Corwin, host of “Ocean Mysteries”, was on site to learn about Sarow and other marine mammal patients we help each day. The episode about The Marine Mammal Center is scheduled to air in November - check back here for dates and times near you!
Related: New Bubble Condition Documented in Marine Mammals
In 2009, another sea lion patient had a similar problem. Cha cha had a build up of gas bubbles in his head too. Cha cha was the first reported case of this medical condition, and scientists from the Center published a paper about this medical oddity. Cha cha was able to be released back into the wild because he was able to exhibt full functionality at the hospital despite a bit of a wobble on land.
Additionally, Woodshole Institute recently published a report about a similar medical condition found in some dolphins. The Marine Mammal Center contributed to that study having found those bubbles in these dolphins during post mortem exams. The question researchers have is if environmental factors have altered the oceans resulting in this abnormality.
Related: Help Other patients Like Sarow
October 28th, 2011
Want to know what The Marine Mammal Center is up to on any given day? Just watch this Day in the Life video and witness the extraordinary quest that the Center’s volunteers and staff undertake every day to save the lives of marine mammals and learn about ocean health in order to inspire marine conservation in every generation. Learn more at MarineMammalCenter.org.
Created by Ken Fisher & Ben Youngerman at Truth Be Told Creative and Produced by Kate Harle at The Marine Mammal Center.
September 11, 2011
When Katie Thoreson and her friend Pete decided to do some kayaking in San Luis Obispo, they never would have imagined encountering an entangled sea lion up close! The sea lion was named Jetty and here is Katie’s recounting of what they saw that day.
It was truly fate that Pete and I found her that day. I’m not one to believe in fate, but this was definitely that moment. We were coming home from SLO and Pete decided to take a random exit and head to the “beach” we drove to the end of the road, saw the fishery area and headed back out. About a mile later I was looking at the beautiful bay and noticed SO much wildlife, I begged him to turn around and take out a kayak with me. Within 15 minutes we were fortunate enough to meet a fellow rugby player… Vincent! He set us up on a boat and were on our way. After about 2 hours of paddling around we came across Jetty. I attached a picture, the state of her is heartbreaking. We first thought the worst then Pete saw her head move. Not knowing any rules of capturing a sea lion and cutting off the netting, we went for it. Pete climbed onto the rocks, I found a fisherman and borrowed his knife. We are animal lovers and volunteer at a local shelter for dogs and cats. Now, in this picture you can see a bird in the background, that bird was Jetty’s best friend and would not leave her side, a true testament to how well animals know and need each other. He was going to stick it through to the end with her after her colony had abandoned her and wasn’t moving for anyone, he stood up to Pete for his friend! :0) We chased her around the rocks for a little bit trying to not make her agitated, but she slipped down and underneath a rock and we could not reach her. From there it was the longest 4-5 hours of my life. We told Vincent about it, he raised our spirits and said he would try to help her out in any way possible, but we were worried about the outcome of that poor little sea lion. We believed in Vincent, you could tell he’s a great guy and has an admirable passion for animals. When we received his phone call that night about his, PJ’s and Melissa’s (or maybe Lisa, I’m apologize I could have the names messed up here) courageous and enduring rescue, it really made my year. Ha- funny b/c we got married in July and this was right up there with that!!!
We were looking forward to coming up to Saulsalito and seeing Jetty before her release, but we didn’t have time. My parents in Colorado also love all the stories surrounding this super star of a sea lion. We all sent donations and we plan on seeing your facility next time we make it up there. We are VERY happy that Jetty could help with the deworming medicine and possibly help the monk seals and domestic pets moving forward, wow! If anyone happens to have a photo or video of her before she went home, we would highly appreciate it.
Thank you again everyone for taking such good care of her and healing all her wounds, you all are amazing people!! Pete and I truly admire you and all your efforts and hope to volunteer with you someday. Vin, they couldn’t have done all this without your assistance! You all are godsends for these animals and they know it.
Read the rest of Katie’s story here.