A pregnant sea lion waddled her way onto the golf course of a Carlsbad resort last week — an unusual spot for the pinniped to be.
With a bit of coaxing, SeaWorld Rescue Team was able to catch the sea lion at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa on Thursday and to take her back to the beach, Rescue Team supervisor Jeni Smith said.
The mammal wasn’t quite as far inland as the sea lion spotted crossing State Route 94 earlier this year, but she certainly needed help getting back to her ocean home.
Smith said the resort called Thursday morning to report the lost sea lion. Crews headed up to Carlsbad and by 9 a.m. were on the course corralling her.
“She looked like she was aware of her surroundings. We just felt like she is in a strange location, a little lost,” Smith said.
Smith said she doesn’t think the animal crossed any streets to reach the resort. Rather, high tides and waterways made it possible for her to get from the ocean through Batiquitos Lagoon and to the nearby resort.
The sea lion looked healthy and appeared to be ready to give birth any day, so the decision was made to immediately return her to the sea, authorities said. She was back in the water by 11:30 a.m.
Smith offered kudos to the golf course staffers who reported the lost animal and let rescuers drive onto the manicured course to retrieve her. She also thanked the South Carlsbad State Beach lifeguards who placed their vehicles as a barrier on the beach to help guide the sea lion to the water.
The animal was the 50th sea lion rescued by SeaWorld Rescue Team this year.
There’s a bit of an update on the wayward sea lion who made national news earlier this year when he wandered onto a busy San Diego freeway. After his return to sea, the animal lovingly called “Freeway” was found months later in a storm drain miles from the ocean. That marked his third rescue, and he was kept at SeaWorld for observation.
“Freeway is still with us,” Smith said. “He is gaining weight and cohabitating with the other animals.”
He’s been found in dangerous places. So, for his own safety, he’s staying put at SeaWorld, Smith said.
“We came to the determination that he is non-releasable,” Smith said.
It was a joint decision made by SeaWorld and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, the federal agency that allows SeaWorld to rescue, rehab and release marine mammals.
Freeway is now an ambassador, helping SeaWorld educate people about sea lions.
“A lot of people know about that animal,” she said. “He is a great animal and we can share his story.”
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