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UPDATED Police Cut Fishing Line from Sea Lion's Neck, but the Animal Later Dies

Four officers spent a half hour trying to help the sea lion, that they affectionately named Sparky.

Photo courtesy the Huntington Beach Police Department
Photo courtesy the Huntington Beach Police Department

Originally posted at 11:06 a.m. May 31, 2014. Edited with new details.

Four Huntington Beach police officers spent more than an hour in shallow waves overnight, and used a seatbelt cutter to snip fishing line wrapped around a choking sea lion.

But despite freeing the creature, it later died from deep cuts to its breathing tube, according to volunteer rescuers at Pacific Marine Mammal Life in Laguna Beach.

"Despite our best efforts, the patient succumbed to his injuries about 1 p.m.," said the center's spokeswoman, Melissa Sciacca, to City News Service.

"It's been a really rough day for us."

The wounded sea lion was dubbed Sparky by police, created had quite a scene on the beach this morning, said Huntington Beach Lifeguard Supervisor J.R. Plascencia.

"There are groups around, they're keeping their distance," Plascencia said. "This (an injured sea lion) is a common occurrence."

The incident began at about 10:30 p.m. Friday, when police received a all from citizens on the beach that a sea lion was in distress in the surf line at Tower 2. The sea lion had fishing line wrapped around his neck, according to a statement on the Huntington Beach Police Department's Facebook page.

"His neck was deeply cut by a snagged fishing line and he was struggling to breath," according to the statement. "Four officers spent a half hour trying to help the sea lion, that they affectionately named Sparky."   "Every time they approached Sparky, he retreated back to the water, but due to his declining condition, he would quickly come back up on the sand and collapse," according to a city police report. "Sparky didn't appear to trust our officers."

Using a flashlight to temporarily blind the seal, officers got a snare on his neck and two other officers tackled the struggling seal and wrapped him up tightly with the blanket.

"Sparky soon surrendered and relaxed as the officers were getting pounded by the white water. They were able to cut the fishing line using a seatbelt cutter and freed Sparky," according to the police report.

But the wounded Sparky stayed near the shore, and was captured by lifeguards and rescue center workers at 11 a.m. He died two hours later.

--City News Service


Gail Neuman June 01, 2014 at 03:42 AM
so sad but bless the officers who tried to help
Stan Jacobs June 01, 2014 at 02:07 PM
Thank you officers for your valiant attempt to save that poor seal! It must have been terribly frustrating for them to learn later that the seal did not survive. But solace must be taken in knowing that they did their best and that the seal eventually sensed that before he succumbed. The seal was subsequently overcome by the trauma it suffered and it was far beyond anyone's ability to prevent it. This opens discussion of the issue of holding fishermen accountable for their negligence. They have the freedom to fish but freedoms do not come about without responsibilities.

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