Coast Guard transports orphaned baby sea lion

November 17, 2014

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Coast Guard worked with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration to transport a baby orphaned Steller Sea Lion from Seattle to Sacramento, Thursday, where it will be in the care of staff members from The Marine Mammal Center.

At approximately 11:30 a.m., a Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento aircrew along with members from TMMC arrived in Seattle from Sacramento to pick up the pup named Leo.

Last month, NOAA contacted the Coast Guard to request assistance with a transfer of the pup, which was found stranded live in Ocean Shores, Washington.

“Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Mammal Investigations responded and picked up the pup for a health assessment and determined rehabilitation was necessary, given the emaciated condition and age of the animal,” said Kristin Wilkinson, NOAA. “Steller sea lions nurse for around one year and without rehabilitation, the animal would have died.”

PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood, Washington, received the animal Oct. 4, 2014 and cared for the animal until the transportation.

“The Coast Guard played an enormous role in making the transport possible with the least amount of time, which is always a No. 1 priority for the sea lion’s health,” said Lauren Campbell, veterinary technician for TMMC. “We have a great partnership with the Coast Guard and because we strive for one goal – to help save Leo – it further his chances of a successful life out in the world,” said Campbell.

In Seattle, the Coast Guard crew worked with Leo’s previous caretakers, PAWS Wildlife Center, and the TMMC staff, to safely load and securely strap the baby mammal aboard a Coast Guard HC-130H aircraft.

“This flight showcases just one of the many diverse mission sets that our crew are prepared to carry out at a moment’s notice,” said Capt. Douglas Nash, commanding officer of Air Station Sacramento and pilot.

“Assisting NOAA in transporting the Steller Sea Lion to a facility that will ultimately rehabilitate and release the pup is a prime example of one of the many ways the Coast Guard works to preserve our coastal resources and marine life," said Lt. Shannon Anthony, 11th Coast Guard District, Enforcement. "This is the ultimate goal of the Coast Guard’s living marine resources mission.”

The pup was transported by vehicle to The Marine Mammal Center for rehabilitation until it can be released into the wild.