LAGUNA BEACH (CBSLA.com) — A pair of Laguna Beach restaurants are donating $10,000 to help marine biologists in their effort to curb a sharp rise in the number of sea lions washing ashore.
The Deck on Laguna Beach, The Bungalows at Pacific Edge Hotel, and the recently opened Driftwood Kitchen together raised the funds to benefit the Laguna Beach-based Pacific Marine Mammal Center at the 2nd Annual "Sip & Shuck" fundraiser, according to organizers.
The donation was timed to coincide with the release of Holly, a now-healthy sea lion who is back in the Pacific Ocean after she was rescued in December.
Through Jan. 13, the Center had already rescued 14 marine mammals from local Orange County beaches, compared with two rescues during the same time period in 2014.
Further alarming the center's experts is an influx of varying species, according to Executive Director Keith Matassa.
"The difference this year is we're also seeing different species we don't normally see down here," Matassa said.
In 2013, a record-setting year, the problem of sea lions coming ashore was limited mostly to Southern California, but now the entire coast is being affected, Matassa said.
The $10,000 donation will be used by the Pacific Marine Mammal Center to provide food, medicine, medical staff time, and transportation to and from the beach for marine mammals in need of medical attention.
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