Sea lion once saved from San Diego highway now saved from city storm drain

SAN DIEGO — A sea lion who made headlines earlier this year for blocking a major highway was rescued once again, this time from a storm drain under a bridge.

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The animal was spotted near a storm drain under the National City Bridge on April 7, UPI reported.

In January, the same 200-pound sea lion was found on the center median attempting to cross California Route 94, as we reported at the time. Had the sea lion followed the storm drain, he would have been led back to the same freeway interchange where he was found in January.

Since then, the animal earned the nickname “Freeway,” and will now undergo a behavioral analysis with veterinarians and marine experts to try to address why he keeps leaving the ocean to wander inland, UPI reported.

Freeway’s first rescue was in November, when he was found walking on Harbor Island Drive, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. After both rescues in November and January, Freeway was returned to the ocean.

>> SeaWorld rescue team snags wayward sea lion that wandered near San Diego highway

Freeway has been rescued and returned to the ocean three times but has been spotted out of the water more frequently. He has also been spotted near the airport, the boardwalk in Mission Beach, near a deli in Mission Bay, and at the Navy base on Point Loma, KNSD reported.

The animal has actually been spotted so many times, that after he was rescued in January, rescuers added a second tag to Freeway’s flipper to more quickly and easily identify him, the Union-Tribune reported.

“We want him in a safe situation,” Jeni Smith, a SeaWorld Rescue team supervisor, told the newspaper. “We want to do what is best for the sea lion. … Right now, because he has been rescued three times in unsafe situations, we are trying to figure out what his plan is.”