Rescuers from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center captured a months-old elephant seal pup in apparent distress at Moss Point in Laguna Beach last Friday, April 20.
Local Andrea Bernholtz and visiting relatives found the marine mammal, who seemed to be having trouble breathing, and contacted the rescue center in Laguna Canyon
The malnourished and dehydrated female seal about four months old was without injury, but weighed 93.5 pounds at rescue, just slightly above birth weight, spokeswoman Krysta Higuchi said.
The center sees a small rise in elephant seal pup stranding this time of year; 36 have been rescued so far this year, compared to 53 in 2017, she said. Normally they would still be on the beaches in their rookeries, but stranded pups in Orange County apparently have left the rookeries too early, maybe lost their mothers or get washed off by storms, Higuchi said. “We are not sure why there is such a spike in elephant seal rescues. It is still too early to tell if this increase is going to be the new normal.”
The Moss Beach rescue, named Chaka Kham by the center’s staff, is recovering, said Arlene Bernholtz.