BODEGA BAY, Calif. (KTVU) - Marine mammal experts are keeping a close eye on the Bodega Bay area after an elusive and entangled sea lion was spotted there last week.
A specialized team of trained responders from The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito attempted to rescue the animal which has a fishing line wrapped around his neck. But he got away.
It was at least the third attempt to retrieve the 600 pound male sea lion, which the center has nicknamed "B-Dock."
In early June, B-Dock was spotted twice: once along the Mendocino coast at Fort Bragg's Noyo Harbor and then in San Francisco at Pier 39.
There was also a sighting later that month in Monterey.
The center said its rescue staff was able to confirm it was that same sea lion that turned up in Bodega Bay on Wednesday.
"A response plan was organized, but despite hours of searching, the sea lion failed to reappear," the center said in a statement.
There are serious concerns that the fishing line will lead to severe, potentially fatal injuries.
Marine animals are increasingly facing life-threatening dangers from debris floating in the ocean, the center said.
"Ocean trash impacts about 10% of the patients that we see here at the Center, and fatal entanglement in and ingestion of marine debris by marine animals has increased by 40 percent in the last decade overall," officials with the center said.
Seals and sea lions are curious animals and regard ocean trash as objects to inspect, play with, or even try eating, according to veterinarians.
In 2015 the center rescued a sea lion that suffered severe injures from a line entanglement that led to a deep cut into his neck, ripping a hole all the way through to his trachea.
Given the name "Thin Mint," veterinarians were able to capture the animal and provide life-saving treatment.
After successful surgery, Thin Mint was eventually released back to the wild.
"It's truly an incredible feeling when you know that you saved an animal that you know is going to suffer and end up dying," said Dr. Shawn Johnson, Director of Veterinary Science.
The center said it is optimistic that it will also locate B-Dock and offer him the treatment he needs.
Officials with the center is asking members of the public to contact them if they spot a marine mammal that appears to be injured or is found in an unusual location.
They also add that people should always keep a safe distance of at least 50 feet from marine mammals.
To report an animal in distress, contact The Marine Mammal Center’s 24-hour hotline at 415-289-SEAL (7325).