Lost sea lion pup rescued after wandering Marina del Rey

MARINA DEL REY, Calif. -- A lost sea lion pup was rescued after wandering around an apartment complex in Marina del Rey Monday. Officials say the problem of stranded sea lions is an issue up and down the coast.

For two days, the little guy, fondly named Walter by the folks who helped get him rescued, was been seen wandering around the apartment complex.

He was first spotted on the rocks Sunday, looking emaciated and listless. On Monday, he wobbled up toward the parking garage, clearly disoriented and scared.

"He was very lethargic, very thin. His skin was very loose, and I could see bones," said Dana Feldman of Marina del Rey. "He was trying to get up on his fins and would fall down flat."

A sea lion pup was found wandering Marina del Rey on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015.

Residents say they called Marine Animal Rescue repeatedly, only to be told the Fort MacArthur Marine Mammal Care Center is at capacity and couldn't take in another sea lion, meaning Walter would have to wait another night.

"I left messages, I left about five with about 10 different places that I called. I was even calling dog rescues. I was just calling whoever, sheriff, lifeguard, fire department," Feldman said.

Finally on Monday afternoon, Marine Animal Rescue worker Peter Wallerstein responded after he was inundated with calls that the pup was in danger.

"We only can bring in three a day, which leaves animals like this alone for a day or so, and then we have to go back and get them, so our hands our tied," Wallerstein said. "We're like a paramedic without a hospital to bring a patient."

Wallerstein says in his 29 years rescuing sea mammals, he's never seen so many sea lion pups become stranded. There have been 120 so far this year, three times the normal amount. The problem is statewide.

Walter's story ends well. He'll be cared for and released back into the ocean, but there are pups who don't get rescued.

Officials are not sure what's causing the massive strandings, saying it could have something to do with the temperature of the water because it's warmer than usual. It pushes the sea lions' food source deeper into the ocean, which makes it harder for them to eat.

The public was advised to stay away from the sea lions because they can be dangerous and may bite, especially when they're distressed.

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