Sea lion pup found on 710 freeway is recovering at care center in San Pedro

A disoriented sea lion pup who was found trying to cross traffic lanes on the northbound 710 Freeway in Long Beach near Willow Street early Friday is doing well and eating, a spokesperson for the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro said this week.

A good Samaritan spotted the pup in the early morning hours on Friday and California Highway Patrol officers helped to corral the animal into the back of a cruiser. The pup, a female who is around 8 months old, was transported to Marine Mammal Care Center, said President Amber Becerra.

“She did come in underweight but she’s eating and swimming in the pool, so that’s a really good sign,” Bacerra said.

While it’s not clear how the pup landed on the 710 freeway, Becerra said it’s not uncommon for young pups to end up in odd places after getting separated from their mothers. In 2015, a disoriented seal lion pup even wandered into a bar in Newport Beach.

Becerra said seal lion pups, who stay with their mothers for up to a year, can become dehydrated and disoriented very quickly if they’re separated. She said the center typically sees an increase in stranded pups when the ocean water becomes warmer, since the mother has to travel further to find fish.

Last year, the center saw an influx in stranded and underweight pups from Los Angeles and Orange counties, but so far this year the numbers are normal, she said.

A pup on the freeway is a definite rarity, she added.

“It’s possible she could have traveled up from the (Los Angeles) river, but who knows,” she said.

Bacerra said Marine Mammal Care, which has been nursing sick sea animals for nearly three decades, is struggling financially and is at risk for closing. The center is currently running a fundraising campaign.

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Kelly Puente is a general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. Her prolific reporting has taken her all over Southern California—even to the small Catalina Island town of Two Harbors. She is a Tiki mug collector and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].