Officer Tracy Turner was called to an unusual duty on Memorial Day – babysitting a stranded sea lion on the Ocean Beach promenade.
A call came into the Richmond District station around 2am on Monday morning to report that a sea lion was wandering along the Great Highway roadway near Balboa Street.
Officer Annie Burrows responded and was able to relocate the small sea lion to the Ocean Beach promenade at the top of Stairway 5.
Officers then contacted the Marine Mammal Center, a nonprofit whose core work is the rescue and rehabilitation of sick and injured marine mammals. But their rescue van was all the way down in San Luis Obispo. So the center asked Officer Burrows to stay with the pup until they could arrive.
When the shift changed over at the station, Officer Turner went out to the beach to relieve Burrows. The pup was quiet and tired, but alert and well.
The Marine Mammal Center van arrived around 9am to take the sea lion back to their animal care facility in Sausalito. They estimated the pup was about 1 year old, and very malnourished and dehydrated. The pup weighed in at just 23 pounds.
Before leaving, the volunteers asked Officer Turner to name the pup, a tradition whenever they rescue a marine mammal.
Turner came up with “George C. Bison”, created from “George”, the Richmond District station’s alphanumeric identifier for units in the field, and the “Bisons”, the name of the station’s softball team.
Turner has worked in law enforcement for nearly 20 years, 5 of those with the SFPD. She’s been at the Richmond District station for about a year and a half.
“I don’t think we’ve ever been called to a sea lion on the Great Highway before,” Turner said. She hopes to get an update soon from the Marine Mammal Center on the sea lion’s condition.
The Marine Mammal Center offers a 24-hour hotline at 415-289-SEAL (7325) you can call to report marine mammals that appear to be ill, abandoned or in danger. They also offer this handy pocket card (PDF) with helpful tips on what to do when you find one.