by INSIDE EDITION staff
Five sea lions were given a second chance at life after being rescued off the California Coast.
Sea lions have been dying in record numbers over the past two years along California's shores. Marine mammal experts have mobilized rescue teams to try and save as many of the pups as possible. Experts say the pups are dying from severe malnutrition and dehydration.
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The National Marine Fisheries Service reports the sardine population has plummeted 90 percent since 2007. Sardines are a main source of food for sea lions.
Staff from the California Wildlife Center rescued the five sea lions pups two months ago and nursed them back to health.
The CWC Marine Mammal Program Manager said, "They're healthy now, nice and fat, and I think they're excited to be back in the ocean."
The staff took the pups to the beach in airplane crates and opened the doors. Two of the pups headed into the ocean right away. Three of them needed a little time to adjust before they too disappeared into the ocean.
As the first two sea lions got into the water, they shared a playful kiss before heading out into the vast blue sea.
The CWC told Surfside News, "It's a really exciting feeling to see them go, to know we've helped some animals, done something for the species."
If you'd like to help, check out the California Wildlife Center's page.