Ocean pollution entangles sea lions in Newport

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NEWPORT, Ore. (KOIN) — Visitors at the Oregon Coast Aquarium can get up close and personal with California sea lions Rosa and Catalina — both of which were rescues.

“She is the sea lion who was stranded off the coast of California,” said Brittany Blades, the curator of marine mammals at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. “You can see she has her left eye closed there, she did have an eye injury and that’s why she was deemed non-releasable.”

Blades said the aquarium staff can step in to help if a sea lion is found to be injured. “It’s exciting we are able to take in and help out the animals that aren’t able to be released into the wild.”

The team also helps marine mammals if they get caught up in the growing problem of pollution in the ocean.

“They are very curious animals so they can end up getting entangled into different types of line, either from balloon strings or from fishing line, plastics,” Blades told KOIN 6 News.

Injured male California sea lions around the Newport Bayfront area, including one hurt by deep entanglement by some sort of fishing or plastic line, May 2019 (Courtesy: Stephanie Earls)

The crew received reports and pictures of 2 sea lions who look like they fell victim to that type of pollution. One of the animals has a serious wound from something wrapped around its neck.

“What we’ve done is work with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network and ODFW (the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife),” she said. “They’ve placed what looks like a big cage down on the docks in Yaquina Bay on the bay front.”

If they can catch the sea lion in the cage, Blades said they will dart it with an anesthetic to knock it out and start treatment.

“Then we can go ahead and disentangle that twine or whatever is wrapped around it and give it some antibiotics and meds, and have it heal back up so it can be back on its way,” said Blades. “It’s really exciting to give them a life they wouldn’t have been able to, otherwise.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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