Sea lion stranded near busy Calif. highway rescued

SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. (KMAX/KOVR/CNN) – Wildlife rescuers in California helped a stranded sea lion steer clear of a highway it was inching toward.

Authorities in California helped a stranded sea lion avoid flipping its way onto a busy highway. (Source: KMAX/KOVR/San Joaquin Co. Sheriff/CNN)

"This is a California sea lion. They can walk quite a ways,” said Dave Zahniser with the Marine Mammal Center.

The rescue happened off Interstate 5 near the city of Lathrop on Sunday.

Zahniser’s team, along with California Highway Patrol and San Joaquin County Sheriff’s deputies, slowly and calmly surrounded the animal, hoping not to startle it.

"We sent some of our best, and they worked with local law enforcement, animal control, and were able to use our standard netting techniques," he said.

Experts said the animal – which the rescuers named “Gilligan” – likely lost its way out of the water before ending up on the grass along the interstate.

Upon initial examination, Gilligan didn’t show any signs of trauma, but more tests are needed.

Experts say those who spot sea lions stranded far from water should walk away and call authorities.

"They have really big teeth and they are not house-broken,” Zahniser said. “If you're thinking about taking it home with you, or moving it on your own, big endeavor. We really recommend you don't do that."

The Marine Mammal Center is hoping to release Gilligan into the ocean in a few days.

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