An injured sea lion was spotted in the Monterey Bay Wednesday and it is believed to be the same animal that was the subject of an extensive search over the weekend in the San Francisco Bay.
Jim Oswald at the Marine Mammal Rescue Center said rescuers would attempt to rescue a sea lion who was spotted in Moss Landing Wednesday afternoon.
One rescuer gave it the old college try, but was put off balance trying to snag the sea lion and ended up falling off the dock and into the water. That man is ok, but his attempt to help the animal failed.
If it is the same sea lion spotted at Pier 39 it somehow found a way to swim 95 miles.
Tourists initially spotted the injured animal last Friday at Pier 39.
Some kind of wire was wrapped around his snout and what looked like a rope was wrapped around his neck.
They said they were there for hours calling for help, but no one came.
Around midnight Erin Brodie, a coordinator from the Marine Mammal Center, showed up to take a look. She received an earful from onlookers waiting for a rescue. She broke the news to the gathered crowd that an overnight rescue would be too risky Friday.
"Those docks are extremely slippery," said Brodie. "Human safety would be at risk and also the animals safety because we can't see what's around there. We can see if there's hooks or lines. If we netted that animal and a hook got around one of those lines and we caused further damage to it because we couldn't see what was going on, that would make us feel terrible. We want to do what's best for this animal."
She agreed the sea lion did need help because of the visible wound.
An injured sea lion was spotted early Saturday morning but slipped back into the water. People searched for it all day, but it was never located.
Pier 39 sea lions have been in the news lately because they seem to be abandoning their perch at the tourist pier.
The Marine Mammal Center, which is responsible for counting the sea lions at Pier 39, tallied more than 1,700 of the animals in mid-October, Oswald said.
There were still more than 900 sea lions in the area as of Nov. 21, but during a seven-day period, that number dropped to about 20, he said.
Officials are looking into reasons why the animals have left but "we don't really know," Oswald said.
"The best guess is they're looking for food sources," he said. "These are migratory animals so it's not abnormal for them to leave for periods of time."
The California sea lions can be found as far south as Mexico and as far north as British Columbia, Oswald said.
Some of the sea lions have returned to Pier 39 in recent days, and Oswald said he hopes some more will come back by Jan. 15. That is when a celebration of the sea lions is scheduled at Pier 39 in honor of the 20th anniversary of the animals' arrival in the area.
"Hopefully they'll be back in time for their own event," he said.