Rescued Sea Lions Arrive At Aquarium

March 04, 2010

Two young female California sea lions arrived by truck at their new home at the Oregon Coast Aquarium March 3, accompanied by Aquarium husbandry staff. The animals will be in quarantine, and will not be on display to the public for 60 days. The sea lions, both about nine months old and both blind in one eye, are rehabilitated animals deemed unsuitable for release. One of the sea lions was born with a large cataract and the other had an injury to her eye. “That’s why we are able to get them,” said Judy Tuttle, Aquarium Curator of Mammals. “A sea lion needs both eyes in order to fish efficiently.”

Tuttle said since all marine mammals are federally protected, the Aquarium was on a waiting list kept by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) permits office in Silver Spring, MD. “After about two years on the list, the permits office called and put me in contact with Dr. Lauren Palmer, DVM, who runs the Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, California. We wanted young animals because our collection is getting old and we have already lost two of the original animals that have been here since the Aquarium opened in 1992,” said Tuttle.

Aquarium husbandry staff picked up the animals in an Aquarium truck and drove them here from San Pedro, California. They will be held in quarantine for 30 days, then will be moved into a temporary pool and after another 30 days will be moved into their permanent home with the Aquarium’s other pinnipeds and will be on public display (for a total of 60 days).

During the 30 days they are in their temporary pool, they will be trained to allow mammalogists to examine them, weigh them and monitor their health. “When they are in their temporary pool, the other seals and sea lions will know,” said Tuttle. “They will be able to hear and smell the new females and likely be lined up against the fence looking over at them. They will be very curious.”

Tuttle said she does not expect any aggression toward the two new females. “But Max will be very interested because they are females and they will belong to him,” said Tuttle. “The entire mammal staff is anxious to meet them and begin working with these two animals. We look forward to the first time we get to take them into the main pool for our visitors to see.”