SeaWorld said its personnel have rescued 579 marine mammals so far this year, 557 of which have been sea lions.
“Our goal here is to give these guys a second chance,” said Mike Bissett, senior trainer with SeaWorld and one of many staff members reassigned to help with the rescues. “We’ve actually had trainers from SeaWorld Orlando and San Antonio.”
Staff members are currently nursing more than 200 sea lions back to health.
The sea lions are coming into the park dozens at a time, according to SeaWorld officials, in need of nutrients and food.
Bissett believes the warmer than usual water temperature is the reason why we are seeing so many wash up on our shores.
“We think there is a fish shortage out there right now and the mothers are unable to get enough food and nutrients for their pups. They are going in a little deeper than they normally would and they’re abandoning their pups,” said Bissett.
With record heat over the weekend, officials believe more pups will show up on our beaches.
Last week, a five-year-old boy was rushed to the hospital after he was bitten by a sea lion at La Jolla Cove.
“When they’re sick and on the beach they’re afraid and can react aggressively if necessary,” said Bissett.
Anyone who comes across a stranded or ill sea lion is asked to contact a lifeguard or call SeaWorld's Rescue Hotline at 800-541-7325. Park officials said people should not touch or feed the sea lions.