Beware of sick or injured sea lions

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A sea lion plays with its food in the Seal Beach Photo by Dave Peeters

Last  week,  Long  Beach  Animal  Care  Services  began  getting calls from residents about sea lions coming ashore.  Since that time, more than a half dozen  sea  lions  have  been reported in the cities of Long Beach and Seal Beach.   Some  of these animals have shown signs of the naturally occurring domoic acid poisoning recently highlighted in local media.

Animal Care  Services continues to work with the Marine Mammal Care Center in  San  Pedro  to monitor and transport sick animals when authorized.  The Marine Mammal Care Center Web site, www.marinemammalcare.org, encourages residents to stay away from beached sea lions and contact Animal Care  Services  (562)  570-PETS  to  report animals that appear to be sick.

Approaching  beached  marine  mammals  is a violation of federal law and dangerous.  The Marine Mammal Care Center Web site recommends:

Seals  and  sea  lions like to rest on the beach to get warm. Not all animals on the beach have stranded and require medical attention.

Do not approach, touch or feed the animals. Seals and sea lions can bite and it is a federal offense to disturb them.

Do not push the animal back into the surf or pour water on it. Pouring water on it may only further serve to debilitate a sick or injured animal.

Do not feed the animal. Feeding the animals something other than what it is accustomed to may lead to illness and possibly death.

Keep your distance and observe the animal from binocular range. Is it thin, can you see its ribs or backbone or any visible signs of injury. Is it alert and just sunning itself?  Is it watching you but not very active?   Is it unconscious?   See if its eyes are tearing.

If its eyes are wet so that it looks raccoon-like, that is a good sign, indicating the animal is hydrated.

If an animal appears to be in distress, contact the City of Long Beach lifeguard or the Animal Care Services at (562) 570-PETS.

Provide the location and condition of the animal.

For more information, visit Animal Care Services online at www.longbeach.gov/acs.  Animal Care  Services  serves the cities  of  Long Beach, Seal Beach, Los Alamitos, Cerritos and Signal Hill, and  is  open to the public Wednesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.,  and  Saturday  and  Sunday  from  10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The Village is closed on  Monday,  Tuesday  and  all  holidays.  Call 570-PETS (7387) for service.

Beware of sick or injured sea lions