Punters at this upscale San Diego eatery got a pleasant surprise when this baby sea lion snuck past the maître d’ to grab an ocean side booth for breakfast.
Delighted staff and patrons were quick to snap these shots that set the Internet into a flap.
But there was also a more serious undertone to the surprise visitor at the Marine Room restaurant.
The eight-month-old female California sea lion was underfed and dehydrated, say officials at nearby SeaWorld, which rescued the distressed, disorientated and clearly very hungry young pup.
At just 9kg, she is considered a “micro pup,” meaning she is half the normal weight for her age.
SeaWorld says high tides and El Nino’s warm waters have diminished the sea lion’s food supply.
There have been 40 recorded rescues of stranded sea lions in 2016 already in San Diego. In 2015, 990 were rescued.
Statewide, the National Marine Fisheries Service reported that 1605 distressed sea lions washed up on California beaches between January 1 and March 8 in 2015.
The Cave Store in La Jolla posted this video below on Facebook on January 21, 2016, that shows a sea lion inside the store.
The pup had climbed up 145 steps and wandered inside before it was lured back to the ocean by an employee.
Meanwhile, SeaWord is happy to report that the San Diego restaurant visitor, now named Marina, is on the mend.
“She’s pretty content right now,” says senior animal care specialist Kevin Robinson.
“She’s getting along great. She’s had a few good meals and plenty of buddies.”