Animal rescuers now believe a second sea lion in Newport Harbor has a fishing line wound tightly around its neck.
"There may have been two all along," said Judi Jones, a director of Friends of the Sea Lion-Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach.
Several times in the past 6 weeks rescuers have tried to net a 2-year-old sea lion, weighing about 130 pounds, which often rests on a buoy in the harbor. But after seeing photographs in newspapers and on television, Jones noticed some pictured the pup, and others showed a 4-year-old male weighing from 250 to 300 pounds with a fishing line in an identical spot around its neck.
Pictures Show Difference
Jones said a crest, which begins growing on male sea lions' heads at the age of 4, appeared in some pictures and not in others.
"When we went out there (Friday) it was the small one," Jones said of the most recent rescue attempt. "I thought maybe I was hallucinating. It's hard to tell. But after putting it all together, we're all absolutely sure there are two, which makes double trouble."
The larger sea lion will be much more difficult to net because it is likely to fight off rescuers, Jones said.
"We do not have a good chance even if we got close," she said. "Normally, we're geared toward handling the pups."
Marine life experts guess the sea lions snagged on fishing lines about 6 weeks ago. The lines become tighter as the animals grow. The sea lions could bleed to death if the lines tighten much more.
Jones said volunteers hope to try again Monday to rescue them.
"I would like to say we can save both of them for sure. . . . With the smaller one we do have a fighting chance, but if we can save one of the two it will be something."