Rescuers that save sea lion tangled in fishing line make disturbing discovery inside her stomach

November 20th, 2020

We all had a rough summer.

But Chompers the sea lion might have had it a little worse than some of us.

You see, Chompers had a brush with death.

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Pacific Marine Mammal Center Source: Pacific Marine Mammal Center

Not only did poor Chompers get tangled by a fishing net around her neck, but her injury required surgery.

The 2-year-old sea lion was also found to have a belly full of rocks. Recovery was no easy task but she made it.

Posted by Pacific Marine Mammal Center onSunday, August 23, 2020

Chompers is doing just fine now but his road to recovery took several months.

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center of Laguna Beach, California found her just in time.

“Chomper was rescued off a buoy in Newport Beach,” the center wrote in a press release.

Ever wonder what it takes to be a part of a marine mammal rescue & rehab team? We will be offering FREE career talks…

Posted by Pacific Marine Mammal Center onTuesday, September 29, 2020

“She was entangled in fishing line with a hook embedded around her neck. Buoy rescues can not only be challenging because of the elements, but also the unpredictability of these wild animals.”

Posted by Pacific Marine Mammal Center onThursday, May 3, 2012

Thankfully, the rescue went pretty well.

Things, however, started to get complicated once Chompers was in recovery.

Chompers’ wounds became infected and she had to have an operation.

We are teaming up to raise funds for urgently needed medical equipment necessary to treat our patients, like as "…

Posted by Pacific Marine Mammal Center onWednesday, November 18, 2020

The operation went OK but Chompers was refusing to eat.

The center gave the 70-pound mammal an x-ray only to find out that Chompers ate 24 rocks that were sitting in her stomach.

It’s normal for sea lions to eat rocks to feel full when they have trouble finding fish.

"Chompers was rescued by California's Pacific Marine Mammal Center in July and spent several months recovering from her injuries." Thank you People 💙🙌🏽!! #TeamPMMC #PMMC

Posted by Pacific Marine Mammal Center onSaturday, November 14, 2020

“The weight of the rocks in their stomach may help relieve the discomfort of feeling hungry,” the center said of why Chompers might’ve chosen to ingest the rocks. “However, in the long term, ingesting rocks can result in severe weight loss if they are not vomited up and the sea lion doesn’t start successfully foraging for appropriate food.”

The sea lion nicknamed Chompers is finally back on her own after healing from an infection caused by a fishing line hook in her neck and ingesting rocks because she was unable to catch fish.

Posted by Pacific Marine Mammal Center onThursday, November 12, 2020

They had to feed her nutrients through a tube so she could be healthy. They also gave her medicine to stimulate her appetite but that didn’t work.

Employees at the center tried to get Chompers to puke up her rocks up but that didn’t work either.

The rocks ended up having to be removed via endoscopy where a camera was passed through her mouth and tools were used to pull the rocks out.

PROGRESS REPORT 📝 🚨 ** Remember Chompers who had the endoscopic procedure to remove large rocks from her stomach a week and a half ago? We are thrilled to say after almost 1 month in rehabilitation she has finally shown interest in fish and is eating some meals on her own! Her rehab has been a rocky one (🤣) and our team is so thrilled at the progress she is making❤️•#progressmakesperfect #patientupdate #sealion #teampmmc #progressreport #rescue #rehab #release #agentofchange #collaboration #aquariumofthepacific #teamwork #animalrescue #animalcare

Posted by Pacific Marine Mammal Center on Friday, August 7, 2020

Twelve rocks were removed and she puked up 12 more after the first 12 were taken out.

“Invasive abdominal surgery in sea lions is not very safe because of their propensity for their incision sites to open up and/or get infected because of the way they drag their abdomen on the ground when walking,” Pacific Marine Mammal Center said. “

But the surgery went well and Chompers was back to eating fish on her own a few days later.

This past weeks heat wave required some fish popsicles for our patients! Not only are these a great way so keep 😎 cool,…

Posted by Pacific Marine Mammal Center onTuesday, August 25, 2020

Chompers was well on her way to being herself again.

She gained 45 pounds and was getting ready to go back home.

And she did on Nov. 6. The center released her back into the ocean and posted the video on Facebook.

Release day 💙 Chompers, rescued by @pacificmmc back in July because of an entanglement, was released back to the wild this week. She is one of the lucky ones as many entanglement cases we see we know there are way more we do not. Be free and thrive Chompers✌️🐟🌏 •#releaseday #animalrescue #teampmmc #sealion #entanglement #oceanconservation #rescue #rehab #release #somegoodnews #befree #chompers

Posted by Pacific Marine Mammal Center on Sunday, November 8, 2020

“She is one of the lucky ones as many entanglement cases we see we know there are way more we do not. Be free and thrive Chompers,” the center wrote on their Facebook page.

But Chompers would have never gotten healthy enough to be set free if he wasn’t able to start eating again. Watch Chompers take his first chomp out of some fish after his surgery in the video below.

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Source: People, ThePMMC, The Sacramento Bee