SAUSALITO (CBS SF) — A California sea lion that made a “miraculous recovery” from a shark bite injury and domoic acid poisoning was able to return to his ocean home last week, according to officials with the Marine Mammal Center.
A press release issued by the center said the male sea lion named Jenya was released in the Marin Headlands last week following over a month of intensive rehabilitation for a severe shark bite injury, domoic acid poisoning and malnutrition.
“Jenya’s road to recovery was one of the most inspiring patient cases I’ve seen this year,” said Marine Mammal Center veterinarian Dr. Emily Trumbull. “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.”
The young male sea lion was rescued by Marine Mammal Center personnel at San Francisco’s Aquatic Park on November 15 after receiving reports from the public of a lethargic sea lion suffering from a large left shoulder wound.
Veterinarians confirmed during the sea lion’s initial exam that the open wound appeared to be from a great white shark. Blood samples revealed Jenya was also suffering from domoic acid poisoning, a condition that — if left untreated — can lead to permanent brain damage and death. Domoic acid poisoning primarily attacks the sea lion’s brain, causing lethargy, disorientation and seizures.
Despite the health concerns presented by the shark bite and poisoning, Jenya’s health steadily improved as he gained back 25 pounds during treatment. After initially clearing the toxin from Jenya’s system with intravenous fluids, experts gave the patient ample time to heal from the bite injury.
Once the sea lion regained full motion and weight distribution on his left front flipper last week, the animal was ready for its second chance.
Volunteers at the Marine Mammal Center successfully released Jenya back to the wild at Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands last week. Jenya was just one of more than 440 seal and sea lion patients the center has cared for in 2020.
“The public’s continued support this holiday season is critical to provide medical care for California sea lion patients like Jenya,” said Dr. Trumbull. “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.”
The Marine Mammal Center has been on the front lines of marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation for more than 45 years. Parties interested in supporting the center can visit MarineMammalCenter.org or text OCEAN to 41444 to donate.
The public can also play an important role in helping the Center respond to seals and sea lions in distress by calling the rescue hotline at 415-289-SEAL (7325).