As most of you probably have seen on facebook, Maya was released on the 7th of March, exactly one week after she arrived to the base. What almost nobody knows, is that this story had a little tail 2 days later… So now the whole story.
Maya arrived the 28th of February: blind, a little deaf, a concussion and totally exhausted. Two days later she was eating by herself and another 3 days later she was happily swimming in the pool eating full meals of 3 kilos in the water. Everything was going really well and she even recovered her eyesight a little bit in the left eye. The only problem for us was that Maya (because of her blindness and the days being so hot) was very active in the night as soon as she felt better. Not only active, she missed her friends in the ocean and was calling for them out loud in the middle of the night. And with loud I mean LOUD! Dinosaur sound blasts travelling all over San Bartolo… To keep San Bartolo quiet and allow the people to sleep, we had to give her company during the night, in turns. Of course we weren’t the ideal company for her, but apparently better than nothing because she always came lying down next to us.
As I said, Maya recovered very fast and one week after her arrival she was ready to go back to the ocean. We decided to release her in Isla Palomino, a sea lion rockery in front of Callao (Lima). Even though, as a subadult, she would be one of the oldest ones in the rockery (where mostly juveniles hang out), we thought that this place was the best for her because she would have plenty of other sea lions around her.
We went with the navy’s boat. Since Maya is blind and really not aggressive, Carlos wanted to try something new for the release. Instead of blocking her with the boards and guiding her to the ‘exit’ with the boards, we blocked the exits, but we were sitting in front of the boards. So nothing between Maya and us, just let happen whatever was going to happen. Maya came out, a little dizzy from the ride. She walked towards Myriam, Sunniva and me, checking us out one by one with her whiskers, really gently. It was AMAZING! Just awesome to experience this big and strong sea lion touching you, curious because it is something new, without any signs of aggression! This really shows that these creatures are in nature not aggressive to humans, it’s the humans who are aggressive to them or harassing them.
Not long after she decided that it was time to go, the ocean was calling! She climbed over the board, didn’t even give us time to take it away, cracked it, walked two more steps and then literally fell into freedom (because she couldn’t see the edge of the boat). She dove, stayed under water for a little while, then came up, drifted close to the boat for a couple of minutes and then disappeared. Bye Maya! Good luck!
Well that’s what we thought…
The next day we already received a phone call from the police that Maya had been seen in Callao, eating fish from the fishermen. She swam of, but on Sunday afternoon she was back again. Come on Maya, the whole week you were calling for other sea lions and now you don’t want to be with them?! What’s wrong with you?! We had no other option. We had to pick her up and transport her to Wakama (in the middle of nowhere) to release her there. Hanging out with the fishermen is way to dangerous in Peru!
So that’s what we did. We went to Callao and yes Maya was there, with a full belly lying on the rocks. A friendly fisherman told us that earlier that day she ate 2 full buckets of fish from one of his friends. But instead of getting angry the fisherman laughed, shrugged and went to have a beer. He swear she was applauding with her flippers and it was only because of her gentle and friendly personality that she was still alive. If she would stay there, one day she would definitely meet the wrong fishermen…
We rescued her just after sunset, put her in the kennel and drove to Wakama. By the time we got there it was midnight. Then we had to walk her for about half a kilometer to the ocean. In the beginning she was walking fine, but then she got tired and wanted to fall asleep almost every meter.
We finally reached the water 45 minutes later. Then she didn’t wanted to go. She lay down, we sat down, until a big wave came. She disappeared and we got soaked. LIBERACION!!!! Bye Maya, have a good life! Take care! And now stay there, OK!