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Someone slipped chlorine into a pool containing the sea lions on April 27. Authorities were still looking for suspects.
The attack came at a tough time for the center, which has been dealing with double the number of ailing sea lions washing ashore, Steen said.
The center has rescued 472 sea lions this year, more than double the 225 average the center fields through May, Steen told City News Service. The center reaches capacity at 125 sea lions and they have reached that point for the past couple of months, Steen added.
Experts suspect that pollution of the sea lions' habitat has caused many of the issues sickening the mammals and causing them to wash ashore.
Earlier this year, the center's executive director, Keith Matassa, said some experts blame it on climate change, which creates a domino effect of problems.
From Sandra Endo:
A loud cheer let out after fourteen sea lions were released back into the ocean Tuesday morning. They were nurtured back to health by experts at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna after a chlorine attack at the center in April.
Someone intentionally poured the chemical into the pool where seventeen sea lions were being cared for, three are still being treated.
Executive director Keith Matassa says, " we've been at capacity. And then this, it's not what we needed."
The center has already been flooded by sea lions washed ashore in recent months. Three thousand have come ashore along the California coast this year which is 17 times the usual.
Experts say global warming and pollution could be hurting their natural habitat.
Three other sea lions are still being treated at the center. Officials are still looking for the suspect.
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