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Laguna Beach

 Volume 11, Issue 99  | December 10, 2019

Nine sea lions return to their ocean home after rehabilitation at Pacific Marine Mammal Center

On Sunday morning at Aliso Creek Beach, a delighted crowd watched as nine rehabilitated sea lions were released back into their ocean home after being rescued and rehabilitated by Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC). All the sea lions were rescued this spring/late winter, suffering from malnutrition, dehydration, injury, or entanglement. By name, the nine were Van Gogh, LeBron, Gaga Swim, Fox, Musgraves, Sunflower, Osprey, Rooster, and Society. 

Nine sea crowd

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Crowd waits for release 

PMMC Events and Public Relations Coordinator Krysta Higuchi says, “Van Gogh was rescued on April 2, underweight with a severe entanglement. The fishing line was so badly embedded around his neck, it had severed his right ear. After PMMC was able to successfully remove the entangled fishing line, the wound was wrapped up. He had to be isolated to give time for his wound to heal.  He quickly re-joined our other recovering patients as his spirits never dampened. While he will forever have a scar around his neck, Van Gogh’s transformation is truly remarkable.”

Nine sea VG wound Censored2

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Courtesy of PMMC

Van Gogh when he was rescued after becoming entangled in fishing line

PMMC has had a very busy rescue season with already 167 rescues this year (they rescued 133 during all of 2018), and more are still coming in. A malnourished sea lion was rescued from Balboa Island Wednesday evening with wounds on her face. Higuchi reports, “Even though we released nine animals on Sunday, PMMC currently has 74 animals in house, and we’re still going through almost 600 pounds of fish daily.”

Nine sea Van Gogh healthy

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Van Gogh jumps right out the gate ahead of the other sea lions

Higuchi says, “Rooster was rescued back on February 5, malnourished, dehydrated with a fishing hook in her eye. She was placed under anesthesia to safely remove the fishing hook. She came in at only 24 pounds and after a lot of hard work with the animal care team, she was released at 67 pounds.”

Nine sea into water

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Happy sea lions rush into the water

LeBron and Gaga Swim were two sea lions rescued at the end of February, beginning of March. The two arrived at PMMC very malnourished and dehydrated. Higuchi says, “These two patients were lucky enough to be sponsored by two classes from Top of the World Elementary. During Giving Tuesday (last November), TOW raised almost $4,000 for our patients and won the naming rights of two of our animals.”

Nine sea leap

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Leaping with joy 

Right now PMMC is having its annual fish drive. 

Go to for more ways to help or stop by in person at PMMC and see some of the current recovering patients. 

PMMC is located at 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd. For more information, call (949) 494-3050.

PMMC is open every day from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists. Scott Brashier is our photographer.

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

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