Fans of the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s flippered friends can formally meet two of its newest members at the Pinnipeds Exhibit this summer: Rosa and Catalina, both rescued California sea lions. Catalina, 3 years old, and Rosa, 2 years old, were stranded off the coast of California last year and were rescued by the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, California. After examination by veterinary staff in conjunction with federal wildlife officers, Catalina was deemed non-releasable because she is blind in her left eye. She would not be able to successfully hunt for her own food and avoid predators because of her partial blindness. Rosa was also deemed non-releasable due to her unusually small size for her age, possibly the result of stunted growth.
“Fortunately, the Oregon Coast Aquarium was able to give Catalina and Rosa forever homes,” said Ken Lytwyn, Curator of Mammals, who met the sea lions in San Pedro and accompanied them on a plane to Portland last summer. “We’re happy to welcome them to the family!” Catalina and Rosa arrived to the Aquarium on July 14, 2015. For the first 30 days, Catalina and Rosa were in quarantine to assure that they were healthy and could not transfer any diseases or infections to the existing population of pinnipeds. They both received a clean bill of health from the Aquarium’s attending veterinarian with the assistance of a blood sample. Both females were then moved to holding pools off-exhibit where they learned some of their basic training behaviors.
Once basic training was complete, Catalina and Rosa met the existing population of pinnipeds. First they were introduced to the older female sea lions, Lea and Quill. Next were introductions to the Aquarium’s eight harbor seals. Eventually it came time to meet Max and Koa, the larger male sea lions. Lea seemed to take on a maternal role, especially toward Catalina, even making a unique vocalization in her presence. She can often be seen hauled out and swimming with Catalina.
Catalina and Rosa continue to thrive and swiftly learn new behaviors during training sessions. They are also very interactive with enrichment items, often tossing around their favorite toys. If you are interested in donating more enrichment items for Catalina, Rosa and the rest of our collection, please visit our Amazon wish list. Say hello to our newest sea lions on your next visit, or check in on them anytime via the Aquari-cam!
Information from the Oregon Coast Aquarium.