SAN DIEGO - A wayward sea lion pup was spotted in an Ocean Beach parking lot early Wednesday in the latest of a rash of unexplained incidents in beach communities from San Diego to Santa Barbara.
San Diego police told 10News a citizen spotted the pup and flagged an officer down around 5 a.m. at the corner of Abbott Street and Newport Avenue.
A rescue team from SeaWorld was requested, but before the team could arrive, the sea lion pup waddled back into the ocean after about one hour.
10News caught up with the woman who contacted police. Pamela Martinez said she was thrilled the pup went back on its own.
Federal wildlife officials have declared an "unusual mortality event" for the California sea lion this year. Hundreds have been stranded along the coast.
Officials typically blame warmer ocean temperatures or disease for a sea lion's trek to land but so far this year, there is no immediately obvious reason for the spike.
SeaWorld told 10News they have rescued at least 315 mammals so far this year. More than 300 have been sea lions. The other rescues included seal pups, harbor and elephant seals and other marine mammals.
In addition, more sea lion deaths have been reported throughout southern California compared to previous years.
This year, LA County had the highest number of deaths with 395. San Diego County was second with 214 followed by Orange, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.