A wounded sea lion found last month in San Francisco’s Aquatic Park was released back into the ocean recently after undergoing weeks of rehabilitation, Marine Mammal Center officials said Monday.
On Nov. 15, the male sea lion later named Jenya was spotted at the park with a large shoulder wound and appeared lethargic. Upon further inspection, veterinarians confirmed the animal had been bitten by a shark.
They also discovered he was suffering from domoic acid poisoning. If left untreated domoic acid, a neurotoxin often found in shellfish and other small sea animals, can result in permanent brain damage and, ultimately, death.
Upon being taken to the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands, however, Jenya’s condition significantly improved.
Veterinarians were able to clear the neurotoxin from the animal’s system with a regimen of intravenous fluids. Additionally, Jenya’s shark bite fully healed.
During this time, he also gained 25 pounds, returning to a healthy weight.
“Jenya’s road to recovery was one of the most inspiring patient cases I’ve seen this year,” Dr. Emily Trumbull, a veterinarian at the center, said in a statement. “Watching this animal transform back into a feisty, thriving sea lion that’s ready to head home is a testament to the intensive rehabilitative and medical efforts the center provides sick and injured marine mammals in need.”
She added, “Each of these animals presents an opportunity for scientists to better understand the threats they face in the wild and continue to improve rehabilitation efforts for this sentinel species.”
Last week, volunteers at the center helped release Jenya back into the wild at Rodeo Beach in Marin County.
According to Marine Mammal Center officials, this year alone, the center has rescued more than 440 seals and sea lions in need of care. Residents who spot seals and sea lions in distress are encouraged to call the Marine Mammal Center’s hotline at (415) 289-7325.