Rescate de Lobos Marinos (Sea Lion Rescue Project) is a Mexican-registered NGO conducting critical sea lion research and rescue operations in the Gulf of California, where sea lion numbers are plummeting. The curious and graceful California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) has been “protected” under Mexican law since 1994, but is no match for nearly invisible “ghost nets” discarded or lost by the fishing industry. Hundreds of animals are drowned and others escape but remain entangled in segments of plastic netting that tighten around their bodies as they grow.
To mitigate the negative impact that fishing (in general) and man-made pollution in the ocean have on health and well-being of the affected sea lions through rescue and veterinary care; as well as to expand upon the knowledge of rescue techniques and to bring our program to other areas where these pinnipeds are distributed.
Trained by California’s Marine Mammal Center, veterinary teams use cutting-edge capture and veterinary techniques to liberate the most critically endangered individuals. We provide trainings to Park Rangers and other government officials and NGOs, and have done so in every marine protected area in México. Working with the government, other NGOs, and concerned groups, we are establishing a national disentanglement network of trained and capable rescue professionals throughout México.
Our constant monitoring trips provide an important database of sea lion population and health statistics, and we are working with scientists to draft and propose a national species management plan for this elegant creature. Our rescue campaigns are highly effective, and our educational outreach efforts have the potential to significantly impact the future for these apex predators, who serve as an indicator of marine ecosystem health and who support hundreds of jobs in the Mexican tourism industry.