A sea lion that had been entangled in twine for weeks was freed on Tuesday by rescuers who found themselves in the "right place at the right time" to aid the animal.
Justin Viezbicke of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Pacific Marine Mammal Center said the sea lion was first spotted about five weeks ago, and several prior rescue attempts had failed.
Then, about 6:45 this morning, the sea lion was spotted sleeping on a skiff in Dana Point Harbor, Viezbicke said.
"Fortunately, she was still asleep so I was able to sneak up" and cut her loose from the entanglement, Viezbicke said. "I got the knife under the line and got a good cut on it."
It's unclear where the twine came from, he said.
The sea lion usually swims away as someone tries to render aid, Viezbicke said. "This morning we were down there early enough, so there's some luck involved there. We were in the right place at the right time."
The sea lion's rescuers monitored her for about 20 minutes swimming in the harbor and concluded she would likely heal in time, Viezbicke said.
"We'll keep an eye on her to see how the healing goes," he said.
Sea lions usually like to flop up on the docks, but with the entanglement, this one could only get as high as a skiff, Viezbicke said.
Meanwhile, rescuers are still watching out for an entangled gray whale that appears to have some sort of metal frame, possibly a crab trap, around its head.
The latest sighting of the whale was Monday night off of Coal Point in Santa Barbara, Viezbicke said, and appears to be swimming with the gray whale migration up north.
The whale was spotted about 3:30 p.m. Saturday about two miles south of Dana Point Harbor.
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