This is the heartbreaking moment a sea lion is rescued from a beach after being found with a fisherman’s net cutting deep into its flesh.
Horrifying footage of the sea mammal’s injuries show how the thin nylon strands have cut deep into its skin causing agonising gaping wounds.
Animal rescuers spotted the sea lion on a beach in Clemente del Tuyu, a town on Argentina’s Atlantic coast, in the Partido de la Costa district of the Province of Buenos Aires, wrapped so tightly in the netting it could barely move.
In the footage, experts from the Mundo Marino Foundation can be seen gently catching it before it was taken to a medical rescue centre for treatment.
The foundation explained on Wednesday, 1st June: “On Monday, 30th May, the Mundo Marino Foundation team went to the rescue of a South American fur seal with significant injuries in San Clemente.”
The coastal town is home to the Mundo Marino aquarium, the largest in Argentina, with seals, sea lions, dolphins and killer whales.
The foundation added: “The animal had multiple lengths of nylon netting around its whole neck.
“The wounds, some more superficial and others very deep, extended to its throat and also under its armpits.
“The extent and severity of the injuries can be explained by the nature of the nylon net, a very fine, very sharp and very dangerous material.”
The sea lion, though, is expected to recover after treatment. The foundation said that it was the third such case in two months.
They said: “In the space of two months, the Mundo Marino Foundation helped in three cases of sea lions and seals being affected by marine litter and fishing nets. Two of them were able to return to the sea, while one is still being treated for deep wounds caused by a nylon net.”
The foundation added: “Between April and May of this year, the Mundo Marino Foundation provided assistance and treatment to two South American fur seals (Arctocephalus australis) and one South American sea lion (Otaria flavescens).”
The foundation has raised serious concerns about the increase in seals and sea lions being found with fishing nets wrapped around them and the effects that marine litter is having on them and on other marine wildlife.
They said that a South American fur seal had been rescued during the first week of April in the town of Villa Gesell, with a deep wound to its neck and left shoulder caused by it becoming entangled in plastic.
They added: “The Verdemar Rescue Foundation assisted the sea lion, with the help of lifeguards and the Argentine Naval Prefecture, and removed the fragment of the plastic band, a highly sharp element commonly used for industrial-type packaging.
“After two months of treatment, the completely cured animal was able to return to the sea on the beaches of San Clemente on the morning of this Tuesday, 31st May.”
Another case involved a South American sea lion that was rescued on 5th May after being caught in a fishing net on the beaches of San Clemente.
The rescue centre was alerted by a teacher who was cleaning the beach with her students when she spotted the animal struggling to escape from the net.
And as seen in this footage from 30th May, which shows the third case, the Mundo Marino Foundation said: “One day before the first animal, which was treated in April and was already healed of its injuries, could be returned to the sea, the Mundo Marino Foundation team went to the rescue of another South American sea lion in San Clemente with significant injuries.”
The third animal is currently receiving veterinary treatment and is expected to recover from its injuries before it is released back into its natural habitat.
Sergio Rodriguez Heredia, a biologist and the head of the Mundo Marino Foundation Rescue Centre, said: “As it is a very strong animal and taking into account the depth of the place, four rescuers were necessary to get the animal to the beach.
“With great care we managed to cut the net that was squeezing the animal’s neck.”
Rodriguez Heredia added: “These three cases are clear examples of how marine litter affects animals, putting their lives at risk.
“They are also a sign of the laziness that many have when abandoning pieces of line, nets or fishing waste without proper care.
“Plastics, bands, fishing nets or waste of any kind are elements that multiply the threats faced by wild animals in their habitat.”