Unwelcome sea lion in need of a boat ride

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DEC. 27 — Capt. Hook needs a ride to the Channel Islands. But he’s no pirate looking for treasure — he’s a sea lion.

Hook has become infamous among anglers in Newport Harbor, Calif., for his daring attempts (and successes) at stealing fish off lines — hook and all — leading to his apt nickname, according to The Log, Southern California’s Boating and Fishing Newspaper.

The PacificMarineCenter in Laguna Beach found the 13-year-old, 8-foot bull near the piers of NewportHarbor on Oct. 28, looking something like a bait shop. He had more than 70 hooks, lures, and lines tangled over his body, according to the article. He was treated and released on Nov. 14 at San Onofre, only to be found back in NewportHarbor on Nov. 20, with all the accoutrements back on his body, according to the article.

Now downing 45 pounds of fish a day at the marine center and weighing an impressive 575 pounds, Hook has become the center of attention, with sea lions and seals watching him as he sunbathes, according to the article. Officials agree that he is ready to return to the wild, so the center is looking for someone with a 40-foot (or larger) vessel that could hold more than 1,000 pounds and accommodate a 4-by-4-by-6-foot cage.

“We would also need accommodations for a staff of about four or five to release the animal,” said Melissa Sciacca, director of development and marketing for the center in the article.

Weather and sea conditions will determine Hook’s release. For more information about the marine center and Hook, call (949) 494-3050 or visit www.pacificmmc.org.

— Elizabeth Ellis