Wounded Sea Lion in Cholla Bay rescued and treated

Pedro the Seal

Photo by: Angel Zavala

A wounded sea lion spotted in the rocky area of Cholla Bay was rescued, treated, and returned to sea on Thursday morning, July 31st.

The appearance of a sea lion that seemed to have fishing net wrapped around its neck caught the attention of a number of people recently who began reporting the sighting on social networks, trying to alert appropriate offices to help the animal. The sea lion itself had been spotted climbing out on the rocks various times daily over a period of nearly a week.

The official report was finally made on Wednesday morning, July 30th, when rescue efforts were launched by staff from the Federal Maritime Zone (ZOFEMAT), Naval Sector, and Federal Environmental Protection Office (PROFEPA). Despite coordinating a rescue operative that day, they were unable to capture the sea lion until 6 a.m. on Thursday morning.

Benjamin Ortega Blanco, Puerto Peñasco ZOFEMAT Director, indicated it was a challenge to capture the sea lion as, true to its nature, it fled the spot when rescuers tried to get close.

“The animal wouldn’t let people get near; first we tried to trap it with a net from off a boat of the Secretary of the

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Marines; we had it, but it got away, it’s very slippery,” he explained.

He went on to say they had to stop efforts on Wednesday afternoon as the tide came in, which didn’t let them maneuver. That’s why it wasn’t until Thursday morning, after waiting for the sea lion to come close to the rocks, that rescuers were able to capture it with dog-catcher’s nets and then place it safely on the ground so that veterinarian Erick Gastelum could check and treat the sea lion’s wounds brought on by the fishing net wrapped around its neck.

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“We waited until it came up to the rocks and then about 12 guys from the Naval Sector, ZOFEMAT, and PROFEPA were able to capture it and bring it to land to treat it,” detailed Ortega Blanco.

The young sea lion weighed about 45 kilograms, and rescuers had to administer local anesthesia in order to give the animal analgesics, antibiotics, and an anti-inflammatory. People living in La Cholla gave fish in order to feed the sea lion.

“He ate very little because he was weak due to being tired, and the asphyxiation from the fishing net prior to his capture,” the ZOFEMAT director explained, “He would go into the sea and about 10 minutes come out to rest on the rocks.”

Finally, rescuers took the sea lion, who they nicknamed “Pedrito” (given the affection they had for him), toward the sea and before they could let him go he took off on his own into the water, no longer having nets on his body.

The ZOFEMAT Director acknowledged Pedrito was saved thanks to those who spotted him and tried to help by reporting the situation directly to appropriate offices. (To report such emergencies, dial 066.)

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He indicated that due to this event, ties have been strengthened between the Secretary of the Marines in Puerto Peñasco and PROFEPA, and they are now able to respond more rapidly and more efficiently when emergencies arise.

Photos provided by: ZOFEMAT

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