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04/10/2013 06:53 pm ET

Lost Sea Lion Pup In San Diego Waddles Back To The Ocean (VIDEO)

A lost sea lion pup in San Diego, Calif., wasn't stranded for long.

After the pup wandered around an Ocean Beach parking lot for an hour, it managed to waddle its way back to the ocean early Wednesday morning -- but not before it was captured on camera. (Watch footage of the pup's return to the sea in the video above.)

According to local outlet ABC 10 News, a pedestrian spotted the stranded sea lion around 5 a.m. on the corner of Abbott Street and Newport Avenue and notified a passing police officer. The young animal returned to the beach before animal services could respond.

The adorable episode is one of several recent sea lion sightings in the area.

Earlier this month, another pup hopped into the front seat of a San Diego man's vehicle when the driver, believing the animal was a dog, pulled up next to it and stopped in the middle of traffic. In a March incident, a baby sea lion waddled out of the ocean to find comfort in a La Jolla Hotel patio chair. Both animals were rescued by animal care specialists from SeaWorld.

More than 1,000 malnourished sea lions have been rescued on beaches in southern California this year -- a number that is extremely high, when compared to previous years. However, as NBC Los Angeles reports, some of the marine mammals contributing to this count have become marooned more than once, washing ashore again after being rescued and released back into the wild.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has since declared the high rate of stranded sea lions pups an "unusual mortality event." While scientists are not certain of exactly what is causing so many emaciated sea lions to come ashore, one of the running theories holds that the problem stems from the marine mammal's prey, or lack thereof.

"These sea lions might be our sentinel that tells us something else is going on that's going to be affecting other fish, that's going to be affecting sharks, that could have much broader concerns throughout the ocean," Sarah Wilkin, a marine biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service, told NPR.

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