A young sea lion spotted in a Northern California farmland canal was feasting on carp as it made its way home Wednesday, a day after rescue crews tried to get it out to be evaluated.
Cara Field of the Marine Mammal Center said the 400-pound sea lion, spotted Tuesday in a canal in Vacaville, had started heading back toward the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
The mammal, believed to be a male, was in no danger from swimming in the fresh water, Field said, and could survive for years outside the ocean with a plentiful food supply.
And apparently he found it: carp. Field says the sea lion chowed down before heading toward the delta.
Marine mammal experts had mounted a rescue effort to get the sea lion out of the canal in the small inland city. The closest body of water is the Sacramento River, about 50 miles north. Experts at the center believe the animal likely traveled up the river, took a wrong turn and followed a series of agricultural ditches and waterways to get to the canal.
“Although this is a rare location for a rescue call, this animal is in very good body condition and active, so we are hoping it just made a wrong turn,” Field said.
The sea lion's swim toward the delta came a day after police officers, fire officials and more than a dozen marine responders tried unsuccessfully for hours to flush the animal out of a drainage pipe.
Officials had wanted to take him to the center in Sausalito, but for now they are going to let him swim and hope he finds his way home.