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Wayward Baby Fur Seal Pup Rescued In San Rafael

SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF/BCN) -- A wayward northern fur seal pup was resting safely Monday at the Marine Mammal Center after a harrowing weekend in San Rafael.

The San Rafael Police Department said the malnourished and dehydrated young seal was first reported on the loose Saturday afternoon. Officers were dispatched and located the seal, but not before it narrowly avoided being hit by several vehicles in the area of East Francisco Boulevard and Grange Way.

wayward seal lion pup rescued in San Rafael
Wayward seal lion pup (San Rafael Police photo)

The seal, dubbed "Ivy" by officials, was rescued by the Marine Mammal Center and taken to their facility in Sausalito. It was not known how the pup made its way onto San Rafael streets.

Veterinarians at the Marine Mammal Center's hospital performed a full admission exam Sunday morning on Ivy, according to the Center. The veterinary team said Ivy is a male pup in poor, severely malnourished condition after separating early from its mother.

Ivy rescued seal pup in rehabilitation
Ivy rescued seal pup in rehabilitation (Credit © The Marine Mammal Center)

The seal, dubbed "Ivy" by volunteers because it was found in a patch of ivy plants, was rescued by the Marine Mammal Center and taken to their facility in Sausalito.

The bay waters are about 700 feet from where Ivy was discovered. The male juvenile pup likely climbed over rocks, crossed the street, and proceeded down the sidewalk where he was corralled into a crate by San Rafael Police officers and MMC volunteers.

"Yes, it's definitely possible. Northern fur seals have the ability to rotate their back flippers underneath their pelvis, and they can move very quickly. They're also great climbers," said Dr. Michelle Rivard, at the Marine Mammal Center.

Ivy is recovering in a heated area of the the intensive care unit, and is receiving fluids and "fish smoothies" three times a day. The smoothies are a blend of herring, salmon oil and water to aid with digestion.

The Marine Mammal Center rescues 30 to 40 northern fur seals on average every year, mostly near the shoreline of the bay. In 2015, 100 of northern fur seals were rescued in the Bay Area because of abnormal warming of the ocean waters. The animals are periodically rescued several hundred yards inland.

Northern fur seals spend almost all of their time in the open ocean, coming ashore to breed or if they are sick, according to Rivard.

Their range extends throughout the Pacific, from Japan to the Channel Islands of California, with main breeding colonies found in the Bering Sea.

Northern fur seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, with the eastern Pacific population listed as depleted. The current population of northern fur seals is estimated at 1.1 million globally, but is declining.

After the "wrong turn" into the San Francisco Bay, Ivy will be nursed back to health and released back into the wild.

"Had he been left out there overnight, or through the weekend, they are very sensitive to temperature changes and hypothermia. He's very lucky to have been rescued when he was," said Rivard.

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