As I mentioned in My Journey, I volunteered as the Assistant Director of the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center from 2007-2011. Every weekend and sometimes during the week I was on-call for any and all marine mammal rescues in Santa Barbara County. During those four years or so I estimate that I personally rescued over 1,200 marine mammals, and fortunately over 90% of them were successfully rehabbed and released alive.
But the ones that didn’t make it tend to stand out more in my mind than the ones that did, mainly because I was involved in the euthanization process which is never fun.
This is a video of me rescuing one of the ones who didn’t make it filmed by the man who called it in. She had a rotten burst abscess on her left fore flipper with exposed broken bones that were rotting as well. Amputation was not an option because sea lions swim with their fore flippers. Consequently, this animal was humanely euthanized about 20 minutes after this was filmed. When you see me looking at her wound through the side of the cage at the end of the video, that’s the very moment that I knew we would have to put her down.
The bright side of this tough experience for me was that I was able to get to this animal quickly, before anyone harassed it. In other words, I’m glad that at least it didn’t spend it’s last hours alive suffering any more than it already was.