Originally posted at 11:06 a.m. May 31, 2014. Edited with new details.
Four Huntington Beach police officers spent more than an hour in shallow waves overnight, and used a seatbelt cutter to snip fishing line wrapped around a choking sea lion.
But despite freeing the creature, it later died from deep cuts to its breathing tube, according to volunteer rescuers at Pacific Marine Mammal Life in Laguna Beach.
"Despite our best efforts, the patient succumbed to his injuries about 1 p.m.," said the center's spokeswoman, Melissa Sciacca, to City News Service.
"It's been a really rough day for us."
The wounded sea lion was dubbed Sparky by police, created had quite a scene on the beach this morning, said Huntington Beach Lifeguard Supervisor J.R. Plascencia.
"There are groups around, they're keeping their distance," Plascencia said. "This (an injured sea lion) is a common occurrence."
The incident began at about 10:30 p.m. Friday, when police received a all from citizens on the beach that a sea lion was in distress in the surf line at Tower 2. The sea lion had fishing line wrapped around his neck, according to a statement on the Huntington Beach Police Department's Facebook page.
"His neck was deeply cut by a snagged fishing line and he was struggling to breath," according to the statement. "Four officers spent a half hour trying to help the sea lion, that they affectionately named Sparky." "Every time they approached Sparky, he retreated back to the water, but due to his declining condition, he would quickly come back up on the sand and collapse," according to a city police report. "Sparky didn't appear to trust our officers."
Using a flashlight to temporarily blind the seal, officers got a snare on his neck and two other officers tackled the struggling seal and wrapped him up tightly with the blanket.
"Sparky soon surrendered and relaxed as the officers were getting pounded by the white water. They were able to cut the fishing line using a seatbelt cutter and freed Sparky," according to the police report.
But the wounded Sparky stayed near the shore, and was captured by lifeguards and rescue center workers at 11 a.m. He died two hours later.
--City News Service