Sea Lion Found Tangled in Fishing Line with a Stomach Full of Rocks Gleefully Returns to the Sea

Chompers was rescued by California's Pacific Marine Mammal Center in July and spent several months recovering from her injuries

After a rough summer, November has been kind to Chompers the sea lion.

According to the The Sacramento Bee, the 2-year-old sea lion was rescued in July by the Pacific Marine Mammal Center of Laguna Beach, California, after she became tangled in some fishing line.

"Chomper was rescued off a buoy in Newport Beach. She was entangled in fishing line with a hook embedded around her neck," the center said in a release obtained by the outlet

The rescue went smoothly enough, but unfortunately, it wasn't the end of Chompers' issues. Once back at Pacific Marine Mammal Center, her rescuers discovered that the sea lion's wound from the entanglement was infected and required surgery. Chompers made it through the necessary operation like a champ but still wouldn't eat after her wounds were treated.

In an effort to learn why the 70-pound marine mammal refused to eat, the center gave Chompers and x-ray and discovered she had 24 rocks in her stomach.

"The weight of the rocks in their stomach may help relieve the discomfort of feeling hungry," the center said of why Chompers might've chosen to ingest the rocks. "However, in the long term, ingesting rocks can result in severe weight loss if they are not vomited up and the sea lion doesn’t start successfully foraging for appropriate food."

After several failed attempts to stimulate Chompers appetite and get her to vomit up the rocks, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center opted to remove some of the rocks via endoscopy, "a procedure where a camera is passed from the mouth into the stomach and tools are used to grab the rock so they can be pulled out of the stomach through the mouth," the center explained in their release.

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center was able to remove half of the rocks via endoscopy, after which Chompers vomited up the 12 other rocks on her own. Several days after relieving her stomach of all those stones, Chompers started to eat fish again, and by early November she had gained 45 pounds, was healthy again, and able to forage for food on her own.

On Nov. 6, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center released Chompers back into the ocean, sharing video of the special moment on Facebook. In the clip, you can see the sea lion happily flop out of her crate and right into the waves.

"Be free and thrive Chompers," the center wrote alongside the release video.

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