Sea lion cub crashes seafood restaurant
Saturday, February 6, 2016, 1:28 PM - It looks like a series of cute Facebook pictures, but the tale of a sea lion pub that crashed a seafood restaurant in California has an ugly back story.
Staff at the Marine Room in San Diego found an eight-month-old pup in the restaurant. It entered through a back door and made a beeline for a booth, looking for all the world like an expectant customer.
"He was a little bit early for his high tide breakfast reservation ... as it is this weekend on Sunday and Monday," the restaurant's executive chef, Bernard Guillas, wrote on Facebook when he posted the pictures.
They have since been shared almost 5,000 times.
Staff called SeaWorld San Diego staff to come and fetch the pup, and probably not a moment too soon -- not because it was a nuisance, but because it was emaciated and dehydrated.
The San Diego Tribune reports the animal weighed only 20 pounds, about half the weight a healthy pup should be, and it's one of more than 40 sea lions rescued in that state so far this year. SeaWorld staff are nursing her back to health, and she'll be released once she has been rehabilitated.
As to why the pup, dubbed "Marina" by SeaWorld staff, was in such bad shape, the answer lies in the warmer-than-usual waters of the Pacific.
About this time last year, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noticed sea lion pups were thinner than they should be, due to unusually warm waters impacting the sea life that makes up the species' diet. This forced sea lion mothers to hunt further afield for food, keeping them away from their pups for longer periods of time.
This year's powerful El Niño event hasn't made things better, and the sea lions' plight has been complicated by stormy weather and higher tides.