Four animals were able to return to their natural habitat thanks to a rehabilitation and care program. Infobae witnessed the moment and talked with specialists about why they leave their herds and how to act in these cases.
On a remote beach in the town of San Clemente del Tuyú, a coastal town, four sea lions younger than two years old were able to return to the sea after having been rehabilitated for 20 days. Those who happened to pass through the place on a cold August morning were enthralled with a natural spectacle like no other. The human being was the one that welcomed them, cured them and returned them to their habitat, but it was also their own actions that had caused these animals to be in that situation.
It was the lack of food that led to 4 sea lions of two South American hairs being diverted from their herds in search of food. In this context, after the notice of neighbours and civil defence, the Mundo Marino Foundation assisted the animals so they can return to their natural habitat in optimal conditions. In all four cases, the common pathology was malnutrition with varying severity.
For 20 days, the sea lions, which presented a picture of parasites and malnutrition, were treated by specialists, and, after being rehabilitated and able to return to their natural habitat, they were reintroduced to the sea on Friday, August 3.
“These cases are indicators that show us what happens offshore and is out of sight. They show us their physiological state altered that something bad is happening, ” said an Infobae Sergio Rodriguez Heredia, biologist and head of the Center Rescue and Rehabilitation of the Mundo Marino Foundation.
How they found them
Two of the sea lions were found in waterways: one was sighted by neighbours in a canal in the town of Berisso. The other was found on the banks of Quilmes. In both cases, they were assisted by Civil Defense personnel from those municipalities.
The other two animals, found in the localities of Las Toninas and Costa Esmeralda, of the Partido de la Costa, were assisted first by the Provincial Organism for Sustainable Development (OPDS) and then derived for rehabilitation to the foundation.
The rehabilitation period involved the implementation of a protocol to reverse malnutrition. “The lack of food triggers other pathologies in these animals because when they do not find food, they suffer not only from malnutrition but dehydration since water is obtained through the metabolism of their food. of time, a picture of hypothermia, “said Heredia.
The lack of food in the waters is difficult to determine exactly. And it is that according to the specialists of the foundation, the causes that cause this shortage can be from overfishing and pollution to climate change that alters water temperatures and modifies the usual food routes.
A problem that is no longer a novelty
As it has been happening for many years, the main problems affecting marine fauna in the province of Buenos Aires continue to be garbage -especially plastic- and lack of food, which is reflected in the increase in malnourished marine mammals found in the coasts of Buenos Aires.
“The sea gives us messages all the time when we find these animals in these conditions, it was in 2017 that we met a sea lion with two hairs that had vomited a plastic bag, and in my years of experience I had never encountered anything. well, “explained the biologist, who has been doing this type of activity for more than 20 years.
And this situation is not new. A study published in the journal Science in 2015 revealed that Argentina is among the 30 countries that pollute the seas the most with plastic waste. Globally, the UN estimates that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.
During the first semester of this 2018, the foundation assisted or rehabilitated 126 birds, 119 marine mammals and 36 marine turtles. Many of them were rescued thanks to the community’s warning, others were registered or assisted in beach monitoring, of which 15 thousand km of coastline are travelled per year.
What to do in the presence of these animals
The presence of sea lions is common on the Argentine coast, and the behaviour of people towards these species that are often resting is not the best. “People think that sea lions should be in the water all the time, that is wrong, they often go to rest and contact with humans can be dangerous for people and for the animal.”
“We could see that when people approach them during their rest period, cortisol, which is the stress hormone, increases markedly,” he said. In addition, in the last time, it was discovered that these animals can be transmitters of diseases such as tuberculosis or have the presence of parasites that can infect humans.
Faced with this situation, communicate urgently with qualified personnel, do not wet them, do not touch them, do not feed them and, with respect, keep the curious away.
The telephone number of the Rescue Center of the Mundo Marino Foundation before emergencies on the Buenos Aires coast is (02252) 43-0300. At a national level, you can contact the Prefectura Naval Argentina at 106 during the 24 hours. In the jurisdiction of the province of Buenos Aires, you can also contact the Provincial Organism for Sustainable Development (OPDS) whose telephone number is (0221) 425-3863.