LAGUNA BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Police continue to search Wednesday for the person responsible for poisoning more than a dozen sea lions at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach.
Seventeen rescued sea lions that had been treated for various injuries and were about to be released were injured last week after someone dumped chlorine into the filtration system of one of the pools.
Laguna Beach police Sgt. Tim Kleiser said you could still smell the chlorine in the air when he arrived on the scene.
“There was no sea lions in the water, they were outside of the pool,” Kleiser said. “There was a white film on top of the pool, and you got a real faint odor of chlorine and there was enough of the chlorine in the air that it was still making your eyes sting.”
The sea lions’ eyes were hurt by the chlorine, so the animals are being treated for that. Some, however, are already recovering.
“I was shocked that somebody would do that to these animals. That’s so sad,” said Kim Chiangtong, who brought her children to the rehabilitation center to see the sea lions. “What kind of person would hurt animals that are trying to get better and heal? And I heard that these ones were just about to get released, and now they have to stay a little longer and recuperate.”
Employees said the extra chlorine could not have been accidental, Kleiser said, and no malfunction with equipment was suspected.
Police are now looking at security video and interviewing people who have access to the facility.