Four Santa Barbara sea lion pups were transported back to sea after months of rehabilitation, all thanks to the help of Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute in collaboration with Shedd Aquarium.
Nicole Minadeo from the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago explained to InsideEdition.com that because of the rising water temperatures, more and more pups are being stranded every year.
Minadeo said that the food sea lions normally eat are swimming farther away from shore in search of cooler water. Mother sea lions then must swim farther away in search of food.
Sometimes, the pups are left abandoned and starving.
Minadeo said she once heard of a sea lion pup arriving at a residential home, after leaving the beach and crossing a street, in desperate search of nourishment.
"People want the cute pictures of sea lions, but seeing them at that level, you can tell they need help," Minadeo said.
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The institute was created last year by a husband-and-wife team. When sea lion pups go too far ashore and can no longer make their way back to the ocean, Sam and Ruth Dover step in.
Stranded sea lions are often brought to the institute.
Minadeo said when the four pups, all rescued around the end of December and in early January, they weighed only about 20 pounds. When they were released, they weighed a normal 45 pounds.
The four pups are very lucky. Many of the rescued sea lions "don't even make it through the night," Minadeo said.