A Peruvian NGO returns nine young sea lions back into the ocean after their mothers were killed by local fishermen. Gavino Garay reports.
These nine young sea lions are taking the plunge back into the Pacific off of Peru's Palomino Islands after weeks of rehabilitation. But how they got to this point, is a much darker story. Authorities accuse local fishermen of poisoning or beating to death over 70 female sea lions. The men complain the animals damage their fishing nets. That left some 50 orphaned pups to fend for themselves off the beaches of Lima. Many died died from hunger or dehydration -- but ORCA, with help from Peru's Ecological Police, rescued 30 of them. The hardest part, says ORCA president Carlos Yaipen, was teaching them to eat on their own. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PRESIDENT OF NGO "ORCA," CARLOS YAIPEN, SAYING: "These sea lions have had a long rehabilitation, six weeks at least, to be able to continue and overcome the process of being orphaned by the mothers and weaning." ORCA made sure the pups were able to catch and eat fish in the water, with the hope they'd do the same back in the ocean. But surviving on their own is just one concern in a long list. Peru's overfishing problem and the use of nets and dynamite, has contributed to a reduction of sea lions in the wild.