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

SAN DIEGO — San Diego drivers encountered quite the distraction Friday morning after a sea lion attempted to cross California Route 94.

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According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the California Highway Patrol began fielding calls at about 9:40 a.m., prompting the department to slow traffic near the Fairmount Park neighborhood and contact SeaWorld San Diego’s rescue team for an assist.

“We got in our truck immediately and rushed down to ensure that the sea lion, obviously, wasn’t hit by a car,” Jeni Smith, a supervisor with the rescue program, told the newspaper at the scene.

“Being on the freeway is very, very unsafe for a sea lion,” she added.

CHP Public Information Officer Salvador Castro told KNSD that the sea lion was in the center median of the freeway by the time first responders arrived.

Meanwhile, rescue team member Eric Ojten told the TV station that the 200-pound juvenile male sea lion in question had previously resided at the SeaWorld facility.

“He was rescued in early November from Harbor Island Drive and was released shortly after and has been showing up in kind of odd situations and spots since then. This is the weirdest, though,” Ojten said.

According to KNSD, rescue team members used three nets to guide the wayward sea lion into a metal cage in order to transport him to safety at SeaWorld.

Smith told the Union-Tribune that despite a small injury to his nose, the sea lion appeared to be in good condition.

“I have no idea how that animal got all the way up the freeway on the 94, this far east. This has happened a few times before, but never — as far as I know — never this far inland... ,” she added.