SeaWorld rescue team helped 1,000 animals in 2017

SAN DIEGO – SeaWorld San Diego announced Wednesday that its rescue team provided assistance to nearly 1,000 birds and marine mammals this year, while urging the public to continue to report animals in distress.

The 2017 tally included 764 birds representing more than 60 species, 154 sea lions, 30 northern elephant seals, nine harbor seals, six Guadalupe fur seals, three sea turtles, two common dolphins and a pygmy sperm whale.

Marine wildlife can fall victim to illness, injury, exhaustion or separation from the mother. Two of the most common conditions are malnutrition and dehydration.

SeaWorld said animals also may become entangled in nets, ropes or fishing line, or accidentally ingest plastic or other foreign objects. Habitat loss and oil spills are also a concern.

“One of the important things to know for the public is they really are members of our rescue team,” Jody Westberg of SeaWorld told CBS8. “We appreciate them reporting any ill or injured animal to us, whether it’s a seabird, a sea turtle or like sea lions, that’s the only way to really find out about these animals.”

Reports can be made to the park’s hotline, which is monitored round-the-clock, at (800) 541-7325, or online at SeaWorld officials suggest that members of the public keep their distance from ill or injured wildlife, as members of the rescue team take precautions themselves before approaching such animals.

Park staff work to rehabilitate the birds and animals and return them to the wild, usually after they demonstrate that they can forage for food on their own.