A state Department of Fish and Game environmental scientist brought the ailing sea lion to SeaWorld's Oiled Wildlife Care Center at around 10 p.m. Thursday, according to park spokeswoman Kelly Terry. The 1- to 4- year-old female sea lion was doused as up to 105,000 gallons of oil spilled near Refugio Beach.
A multi-agency unified command conducting cleanup operations in Santa Barbara estimated the sea lion was 35 percent covered in oil before being transferred to SeaWorld for treatment and rehabilitation. Five brown pelicans have also been rescued and sent to care facilities, authorities said.
Terry said the sea lion was extremely lethargic and emaciated when she was brought to the park. She had oil coating her body face and flippers.
Rescuers were working to hydrate the sea lion and wash off the oil. Terry said the sea lion was monitored overnight and animal care specialists and veterinarians were cautiously optimistic about her chances for survival.
SeaWorld's Oiled Wildlife Care Center has the capacity to house 20 sea lions or other pinnipeds, Terry said. The park has 100 personnel trained to provide aid after an oil spill, but as of today none have been requested to help out with recovery efforts in Santa Barbara.