Sea lion pup rescued from inside car at the Dana Landing boat launch

Sea World called to help with rescue

SAN DIEGO - A wayward baby sea lion climbed into someone's vehicle near SeaWorld San Diego early Wednesday.

Officers received a report of a baby seal sighting at Ingraham Street and West Mission Bay Drive about 5:15 a.m., according to San Diego police Officer Dan Lasher.

"It climbed into someone's vehicle and is sitting in the front seat," Lasher said, noting a rescue team from SeaWorld coaxed the pup out about an hour later.

The driver of the car said he was on his way to work when he saw what he thought was a dog on the road.

Mike Delahunt said he pulled over to help the creature.

"He was sitting right out here on the white line between the two traffic lanes," Delahunt explained to 10News. "[I] thought he was an injured dog, so I pulled over and came back and put my headlights on, so then I thought it was a possum."

"I didn't know what to do," Delahunt added. "So I just opened the door and got him over there, he ended up just jumping in the car, hung out in the front for a little while and then went to the back and he's just been sitting there for about 20 minutes waiting for the Sea World guys to show up."

The SeaWorld rescue crew told 10News the pup appears to be 8-months old, thin and dehydrated.

10News previously reported that SeaWorld has rescued more sea lion pups this year compared to the past two years combined. Due to this year's spike, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently declared an "unusual mortality event" for the California sea lion.

According to SeaWorld, 294 mammals have been rescued this year, with 277 of those being sea lion pups. The other rescues included seal pups, harbor and elephant seals and other marine mammals.

In addition, more than 700 sea lions have been found stranded on rocks and beaches along the southern California coast this year.

Keith Yip, SeaWorld's Curator of Mammals, has been helping animals for more than 25 years. He told 10News there has been a huge advance in the level of care they provide for the mammals.

Yip said that if the rescue rates continue at the current average of about nine sea lions a day, it could be the worst year yet for strandings.

"Fairly inexperienced animals going out for food; it's tough on those guys," Yip explained.

Experts see rescue rates as a barometer for what's going on in the ocean, and they believe food is scarce this season.

"These animals are on the skinny side, so they're trying to stay warm," Yip added.

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