Four California sea lions and three harbor seals waddled their way back into the Pacific Ocean from Laguna Beach on Saturday after being rehabilitated by a local nonprofit.
One of the marine mammals released Saturday, named Cringle, was taken in by the Pacific Marine Mammal Center with a broken flipper. Another, named Buzz, had an injured face, while one named Zion was wrapped in monofilament and tangled in fishing lines.
The Pacific Marine Mammal Center takes in animals found stranded on beaches along the Orange County coast for treatment.
Rehabilitated animals are usually released off of a private cove. However, since Saturday’s release was the last of the season, community members were invited to watch.
“We wanted to make it really special for all the people who helped in their recovery, ” said Krysta Higuchi, events and public relations coordinator for the center.
Viewers were required to stand behind the animals and stay quiet so as to be out of their line of sight and not alarm them.
“These types of events can be a little bit stressful for the animals,” Higuchi said.
The nonprofit treats 150 to 200 animals on average each year, according to Higuchi. They have treated 180 so far this year, she said.
The Pacific Marine Mammal Center has been around for nearly 40 years and was the first marine mammal rehabilitation facility in California, according to their website. They continue their mission of rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing animals back into their natural environment and educating the public.