Rescued sea lions poisoned after intruder deliberately dumped chlorine into their pool
- Seventeen sea lions were poisoned at Marine Mammal Rescue Center
- They suffered from corneal ulcerations and some of the animals' eyes were 'all puffed up and swelled up,' police said
More than a dozen sea lions were injured after someone deliberately contaminated the water supply at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, California.
It happened overnight, a couple of weeks ago, after someone deliberately poured chlorine into the pool in which the sea lions were swimming.
17 of them, who were already at the center being treated, became ill.
Seventeen sea lions being treated at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach were reinjured when the chlorine entered the water filtration system and contaminated their pool habitat
Police are looking for a person who dumped a large amount of chlorine into a pool for sick sea lions at a California marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation center last week, leaving the sea lions with eye burns
Most of the sea lions in the pool that was targeted had already been given a 'clean bill of health' and were due to be released the following day.
Fifteen of the marine mammals have been diagnosed with varying degrees of corneal ulcerations. Eight have healed since the attack, but seven others are still receiving veterinarian treatment, Laguna Beach police said.
A Pacific Marine Mammal staff member arrived at the rehabilitation center around 6 a.m. Tuesday, April 28.
The employee smelled a 'really strong odor' and noticed that the seventeen sea lions were out of the pool water.
Some of the sea lions eyes were 'all puffed up and swelled up,' Sgt. Tim Kleiser said.
Fifteen of the marine mammals have been diagnosed with varying degrees of corneal ulcerations
Eight have healed since the attack, but seven others are still receiving veterinarian treatment, Laguna Beach police said
Those responsible for the attack could face thousands of dollars in fines and jail time
It's the first known animal assault to ever take place at the non-profit center which serves all of the Orange County coast.
'It's hard for all of us. Our volunteers and staff have taken these animals from near death and rehabbed them back and gotten them ready to go back in the wild, and to have this happen right before they're ready for release, it's shaken the staff,' Keith Matassa of the center said to ABC 7.
Laguna Beach police have launched a joint investigation along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Those who are caught will face up to $20,000 in fines along with other federal and state charges that include jail time.
There has been an 'unusually large increase' in the number of California sea lion pups stranding on the beaches of southern and central California, according to a recent.
Rescue centers have taken in hundreds of starving and sickly sea lions that have washed up along California's coast with more than 400 pups rescued this year alone by Pacific Marine Mammal Center.
Most were brought in because they were malnourished and needed to be nursed back to health.
The Marine Mammal Center has since hired a security guard overnight as a result of the attack.
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