Let me start off with saying this may be long.
So today I went on my daily walk to the beach a little later than usual, so the tide was far off and I could explore a new section of beach. On my trip back I came across a sea lion, just lying there. He was as far back from the water as he could be, just next to the cliff edge. I walked up to him to see if he was dead. He slightly moved. He looked like he had been crying. Complete anthromorphization on my part, but there was water coming out of his eyes. Why, I do not know.
For reference, this is a California Sea Lion:
I tossed a piece of kelp at him to see if he was sick or sleeping. He looked at me and rolled slightly. I decided to sit next to him, about 6 feet away. He was young looking, about 5 feet long, light brown, and I would guess about 60 lbs - not too big, but I didn't want to get too close. He would roll slightly, rocking back and forth, and adjust his flippers.
It was interesting sitting next to him. The more time you spend with animals, the more you can read them. Like when you don't own a dog you just see jumping barking things that like to be petted, but once you live with one you can read their body language and expressions. This sea lion almost seemed like a sleeping dog, and when he rolled over he seemed like a man sunning himself. His back flippers were covered in sand, but they were black or dark brown. The looked like limp, old leather gloves covered in dirt. They each had five 'fingers', but one of the flippers was missing the middle finger, and instead there was a red stump. He had very thick looking whiskers.
He kinda looked like this one.
So I was sitting there for about twenty minutes when I hear some yelling from 20 feet above me on the cliff. Two women, I could barely see their heads, told me they had already called about the sea lion, and that someone was coming. I decided to sit there with the sea lion until help arrived. He was barely moving, except for the occasional roll, flipper slap, and blink.
Another 30 minutes or so passed. It was very calming, sitting there with the sea lion. I watched the waves roll in and out. The tide was coming in, but we were at least 15 feet in. I made sand sculptures and watched passing boats. The lady was yelling from the cliff again, saying they were on their way. I could feel my skin beginning to burn. I had worn lotion, but this was peak sun time.
Another 10 minutes and this time I see the lady in person, followed by 3 people in working garb. She was a bleach blonde woman in her 40's or 50's, dressed like a socialite. She thanked me for waiting and told me she thought that the sea lion had been there since last night. She had spent the morning watching him and had yelled at people who tried to touch him or let their dogs near him. The other three were from a marine rescue group. I think it was this one: The Marine Mammal Center : Home
They noted that he was unresponsive to the fact that there were people around him and he was in "lepto" position, sort of a sea lion fetal position. They also noted that his butt was bony (don't know what that means). Lepto is a bacteria that infects sea lions that attacks their kidneys. (I just found an article on it here -http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local-beat/Sick_Sea_Lions_Showing_up_in_Sausalito.html ) I told them about the flipper injury I noted, but they didn't seem too interested.
They decided that he should be caged. They went back up the cliff and came back with 2 additional strapping men, a giant net (like the one to scoop goldfish), a big pet container, and 2 large wooden boards with handles on the back. They netted the sea lion, who up to that point was quiet lethargic. Now he thrashed around and barked a few times. They opened the gate to the container and used the boards to guide him in. They had to do this several times because he almost escaped. Then four of them lifted the container up by the ropes at the corners of it and started off towards the stairs. I helped the senior and most talkative member of the group carry the boards and net.
We had to brave some pretty high waves to get to the stairs. They were about thigh-high. The woman I was walking with was wearing jeans and sneakers and I think she got pretty soaked. At the base of the stairs, there were a few people standing around. They let one guy name it. They decided on Ackbar (the Star Wars dude who says "it's a trap!". He is currently enjoying a popularity surge because of a meme.) They put him in his crate in the back of the truck, and at that point I left.
He was a juvenile (teenager) sea lion, and he may recover if his lepto isn't too bad. I just found out I can keep track of him on the website I posted earlier.
There's a picture of the rescue technique I mentioned here: The Marine Mammal Center : Rescue: The Humane Response