A young, emaciated sea lion was rescued in San Francisco after crossing a road in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Officials said Thursday morning that the undernourished animal was spotted by a couple who pulled over to try to protect it on the roadside. A park ranger then spotted the three and blocked traffic with his vehicle, they said.
The animal bit at blankets used to coax him into a plastic carrier, but he was safely loaded and taken to the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, officials said. There, he joined a record number of sea lions that had been rescued in recent weeks.
"One hundred and two California sea lions in the last 10 days," a spokeswoman for the center said earlier this week.
The influx is unprecedented.
In 2014, the center did not see 100 California sea lions until April 2. But as of this week, the center had responded to aid requests for at least 171 of the animals, most of them pups.
January was a record month, with 69 sea lions treated. A year ago, the center treated five California sea lions in January.
Southern California marine mammal centers also are seeing record numbers of sea lions.
"It's shaping up to be a very, very bad year as far as rehabilitation," David Bard, operations director at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, told the Los Angeles Times in a recent interview.
There were 75 animals at the San Pedro center near the end of January -- double the number from January 2014, Bard said.
A team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service went to the Channel Islands at the end of January to look for clues to the huge number of strandings. They are expected to announce any findings by the end of the month.
According to the Marine Mammal Center, Thursday morning's rescued sea lion was initially thought to be a pup because of its size, but was later found to be a yearling, born in June 2013.
The animal weighs 30 pounds but should weigh about 80 pounds at his age, the center said.
Park Ranger Matt Wallat named the animal "Percevero." In Latin, "persevero" means "to persevere." Every animal admitted to the center gets a name. The member of the public who calls in a rescue is given the chance to name it. Otherwise, staff or volunteers take on that duty.
There are themed names "to make the process more efficient," a spokeswoman for the facility said. For example, there were a set of "Harry Potter" names -- including Quaffle, Hufflepuff, Fenwick and Expecto.
The Sausalito center warned the public not to approach stranded sea lions but to call rescuers. The San Pedro center can be reached at (310) 548-5677.
Follow me at @AmyTheHub