A malnourished adult female sea lion who was found on the beach north of Monterey by a vacationing Ceres family is now faring better thanks to their report to a rescue center.
On Saturday, Sept. 24 Richard and Kathy Robbins of Ceres planned to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium with their son Dylan Robbins and his girlfriend Melani Calvo but hit such heavy traffic going into Monterey that they decided to visit the Zmudowski State Beach near Moss Landing.
He spotted it first and both thought it was dead because it wasn't moving until they got closer.
Kathy googled to find someone to call and learned that volunteers with the Marine Mammal Center were very close by.
Asked Kathy over the phone to walk around the animal without disturbing it to check for marks or bites.
"She didn't like it when I got between her and the ocean," said Kathy. "It kind of startled her a little bit like ‘now you're in my way.' I kept my distance."
She texted some pictures of the animal on the smart phone.
When the center said they were on the way, they asked the Ceres family if they could continue sitting with her and see that she didn't return to the ocean. They waited 45 minutes to an hour for volunteer rescue team to come up from Santa Cruz, trying to distract her slipping back into the rising tide.
"I'm going, ‘I'm not leaving her.'"
The rescue personnel snuck up from behind to net the sea lion and put her into a dog kennel with wheels.
"He just got her she was ready to bolt back into that ocean. Thankfully she didn't because she probably would have ended up dying."
The rescue team, said Kathy, was very quick and gentle.
"They are all volunteers, they are awesome people. They end up getting her in the kennel so my husband and son were helping them push it over the dune and got her all situated. We felt good. It was nice that we actually got to help."
The Ceres couple was asked to name the animal so it would have a name while it's being nursed back to health. They named it Penelope Penny. The Robbins were also given a way to track the animal's progress while at the Sausalito hospital.
Veterinarians assessed Penelope Penny and determined that she was very underweight at 122 pounds from malnutrition. Kathy has heard that some sea lions don't get enough to eat because of all the human fishing activity in the Monterey Bay.
The Robbins's went about the rest of their weekend but have checked back on Penelope Penny's progress.
"They said she was eating daily and that she moved in with her roommate," said Kathy. "They're feeling very optimistic that she will be released."
Hospitalization could take months before her release back out into the waters of the Pacific Ocean.
A search of the Marine Mammal website on Monday showed that Penelope was one of nine patients at Sausalito. All but two were suffering from malnutrition.