SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) – Like the TV character he was named after, Gilligan the sea lion was marooned in an unfamiliar place.
The sea lion got stuck aground Sunday in the Tracy triangle just off Interstate 5.
San Joaquin County Animal Services and the California Highway Patrol monitored the aquatic mammal before experts from the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito came to the rescue.
“Gilligan has now had a full veterinary exam and appears to be quite healthy,” Marine Mammal Center Response Training and Operations Manager Dave Zahniser told FOX40.
Zahniser said the sea lion, a subadult male, will likely be released into the Pacific Ocean after a few more days of evaluation.
Gilligan’s recovery follows a similar situation a few years ago when another sea lion ended up in Vacaville before eventually finding its way back to the open waters.
Zahniser said when sea lions get lost it doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong with the animal.
“So, what we see with animals like this is they’re following food,” explained Zahniser. “They’re opportunistic and there is quite a bit of food in the waterways around the Bay Area.”
Zahniser said it is not unusual for a healthy sea lion to wander over land looking for the next waterway in search of food.
“It looks like he just got lost looking for bigger fish,” said Zahniser.
For the rescuers, an outcome like the one Gilligan will have is incredibly gratifying.
“It is, especially in times like these when we all need a bit of hope. Really satisfying for all the people involved to get that animal back to the ocean,” said Zahniser.
Zahniser wants people to know that they can help the Marine Mammal Center with its work.
“If you’re interested in helping, text us 41444, text the word ‘ocean,’ and you could help us buy a pound of fish to feed somebody like Gilligan,” said Zahniser.
Sea lion rescuers said the animals can be aggressive, so if you see a wayward sea lion, you are asked to keep a safe distance and call the Marine Mammal Center.