Sea Lion found at Flower Hill mall

It was an odd sight that left officers scratching their heads. Two women called police around 11 p.m. Tuesday evening alerting them to a sea lion roaming around Flower Hill Mall in Del Mar.

Two women in Del Mar called police after finding a Sea Lion parked under a car about a mile from the ocean.

“He was just right in the parking lot, right where the cars would be and everything,” SeaWorld Asst. Curator of Mammals Eric Otjen said.

The young sea lion was chilling out in the parking lot near Albertsons grocery store and Chevy’s restaurant, off Via de la Valle about 10:40 p.m.

Officers managed to cordon off the sea lion, which under different circumstances could have been dangerous. Sea lions can be really aggressive, but not this little guy.

“He was real mellow. It was the middle of the night, they like to sleep like we do,” Otjen said. “He didn’t try to bite or run away or anything.”

The theory is that the sea lion probably came into the lagoon from the San Diegito river, “and then crossed the street,” Otjen said laughing. “We don’t know why, but he did.”

Sea lions roaming 10 to 12 miles away from the ocean isn’t exactly normal, in fact it’s “pretty rare,” Otjen said. “This is maybe the third or fourth time. It really doesn’t happen all that often.” While Flower Hill mall is about a mile from the ocean, the sighting is still rare.

The sea lion was taken to SeaWorld, where the little fellow was recognized right away. The 1-year-old was set free back in February, after being rehabilitated.

“When he first came, he had mild pneumonia,” Otjen said. “Once he got enough weight on him and we cleared it by the veterinarians, he was released back out.”

The mammal is doing just fine, SeaWorld officials said. The goal is to rescue, rehabilitate and release him back into the ocean. Officials say he’s already eating and so his prospects are good.

So that is the story about the seal lion that " crossed the street,” Otjen said. “Why, we don’t know.”

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