Crews attempt to save sea lion impaled by fishing gaffe - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Crews attempt to save sea lion impaled by fishing gaffe

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - It's a disturbing discovery along San Diego Bay -- a sea lion impaled by a fishing gaff.

It was first spotted off Coronado Wednesday and on Thursday, Sea World crews are trying to rescue the sea lion spotted near Seaport Village.

When Elliott Smith-Watson tried to walk past the sea lion, he couldn't believe what he saw.

"That was intentional, whoever did it," he said. "For a gaff, you have to... there's no way it's just in the water and pokes you. It's not meant to be sharp. You have to really hit something with it."

SeaWorld was called to the Embarcadero area Thursday to save the 500-pound peniped, but it had other ideas. The one positive -- officials got close enough to get a good look at the injury.

"I'd say from looking at him he hasn't eaten in a couple days. He's dehydrated, and if we don't take away the reason why he's not eating, which is the gaff, then his chances aren't too good," Dr. Hendrik Nollens said.

SeaWorld says the injury could be 4 to 5 days old. There's a lot of swelling and the animal is obviously getting weaker.

"Usually if we attempt to rescue and it's unsuccessful, the animal swims off right away. He didn't do that, he's hanging around. He wants to rest. So this is an animal that needs help and we need to get it the help it needs," Jody Westberg of SeaWorld said.

But by sleeping on the dock, SeaWorld workers don't have a chance. The sea lion will just slip back into the water when they get close, and because it has so much blubber, a tranquilizer won't work.Hopefully it will go on to a beach or some other area where workers can surround it. They see more than their fair share of purposely injured sea lions.

"We've removed jigsaw blades from their back. Just last week, we removed a bullet from a California sea lion," Westberg said.

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