Sea lion in Vacaville leaves drainage pipe, heads home

A sea lion exits a drainage pipe, where it had out in a farmland canal in Vacaville, Calif., Wednesday, March 15, 2017. Marine experts on Wednesday have suspended their effort to rescue the sea lion from a farmland canal because he seems to be headed home on his own. (Joel Rosenbaum/The Vacaville Reporter via AP)

VACAVILLE, Calif. (AP) — A young sea lion spotted in a Vacaville farmland canal was feasting on carp as it made its way home Wednesday, a day after rescue crews tried to get him out to be evaulated.

Dr. Cara Field of the Marine Mammal Center said the 400-pound sea lion spotted Tuesday in a canal in the inland city of Vacaville started heading back toward the delta of the Sacramento River.

Field said the sea lion was in no danger from swimming in the fresh water and could survive for years outside the ocean with a plentiful food source.

She says he found it: carp. Field says the sea lion chowed down before heading toward the delta.

Marine mammal experts had mounted a rescue effort get the sea lion out of the canal in the small inland city of Vacaville, between San Francisco and Sacramento.

The closest body of water is the Sacramento River, about 50 miles north. Experts at the center believe the animal likely traveled up the river, took a wrong turn and followed a series of agricultural ditches and waterways to get to the canal.

“Although this is a rare location for a rescue call, this animal is in very good body condition and active, so we are hoping it just made a wrong turn,” said Field.

Sea lion trapped in Vacaville canal

The mammal, believed to be a young male, is fat and looked healthy and seemed to be enjoying his adventure, center spokesman Giancarlo Rulli said.

The sea lion’s swim toward the delta came a day after police officers, fire officials and more than a dozen marine responders tried unsuccessfully for hours to flush the animal out of a drainage pipe.

Officials wanted to take the animal first spotted Tuesday morning by an animal services official to the center in Sausalito to be evaluated.

But for now, they are going to let him swim and hopefully find his way home.

The sea lion has been dubbed “Mr. Leisure.”

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