A lion seal mother and the newborn baby she gave birth to at the Santa Barbara harbor launch pad early Monday morning were safely transferred to an isolated habitat on Friday, away from visitors who had invaded the area to take a look.
“It’s really important to be able to see the wildlife up close,” said Roth Dover, director of the Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute. “Everyone loves to see a baby,” she said with a laugh, admitting that she had passed by the site to drop something off and found herself there three hours later looking at the mother and the baby. Dover added that the mother was probably heading to the offshore island seal colonies, but just couldn’t walk the last 25 miles or so.
To ensure the two can bond and breastfeed in relative peace, the City’s Waterfront Department and Harbor Patrol put a barrier around the launch pad. Visitors were asked to keep their voices low because if the sea lion became in distress, it could take on water and possibly abandon the pup, Dover said. Volunteers have been on duty day and night, and the high winds of the past few days have kept boat activity quieter than normal.
As the weekend approached, Dover and his team were eager to move the couple to a quieter location and were relieved to see the baby regaining strength. Their vets sedated and tied the 180-pound mother to keep her from taking off, then used gloves to handle the puppy and place it in a crate. The two were moved to their new location by truck, where the Wildlife Institute will continue to monitor the couple.
They are working on a short video about the two sea lions, which will appear at the nonprofit Youtube channel, Dover said, and the surveillance information will appear at their Facebook and Instagram pages as the puppy learns to swim and the two return to the ocean.
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