La Jolla News Nuggets: SeaWorld rescues five sea-lion pups; ‘Sudden braking’ in Lime scooters and more noteworthy local news


Rescue lion-1-1

SeaWorld rescue workers netted and removed five sea-lion pups from Boomer Beach on Sunday, Feb. 24 that they said were too small to survive on their own. The workers said they only netted two the previous week.

“Right now, we’re going into our busy season,” said senior SeaWorld rescue team member Jonathan Diaz. “The pups are going through the weaning process. Mom’s out of the picture and it’s time for them to fend for themselves.”

SeaWorld will care for the animals — including administering antibiotics if they test positive for infection — until each gains enough weight to be released back into the ocean, usually within one-to-two months.

The workers were summoned to The Cove not for the pups but on a tip about a sea lion whose hind flippers were bitten off by a shark.

“She needs to be picked up, but the problem is that she’s behind about 20 other sea lions, and it’s more dangerous for us to attempt to rescue her that way than it is to leave her,” Diaz said, adding that the animal seems to be eating and otherwise healthy enough to survive for at least a few more weeks.

While on site, Diaz said, he and his co-worker, Miles Teague, started noticing all the malnourished pups.

“Once it gets to the point where you can see the animal’s hips, spine, ribs and shoulder blades, we know that animal is in trouble,” Diaz said.

To report an animal in distress, call (800) 541-7325. Diaz also suggests snapping photos with your cell phone, which will help the rescue workers determine the extent of the emergency.

‘Sudden braking’ in Lime scooters

What Lime calls a technical “bug” in its scooters can cause “sudden excessive braking during use,” according to a company statement. The sudden braking usually arises when scooters are ridden downhill at top speed, according to the statement.

The company said it was remotely updating a fix into its machines. However, it still urges riders to apply a “tight squeeze” to brakes as soon as they begin their trip to ensure that their scooters are working properly.

Spare a bag, save a life

FACE Foundation is hosting its ninth annual Bags & Baubles silent auction fundraiser for pets, 1-5 p.m. Sunday, April 28 at a Rancho Santa Fe estate. The animal nonprofit is also collecting gently used designer and vintage handbags, sunglasses and fine jewelry to sell at the event.

Requested brands include, but are not limited to, Rebecca Minkoff, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Tory Burch, Stella McCartney, Ted Baker, Prada, Gucci, Luis Vuitton, Chanel and Jimmy Choo. Some 430 guests and volunteers attended last year’s Bags & Baubles, which raised nearly $130,000 for pets facing life-threatening conditions.

“All donations will directly help to support local pets facing economic euthanasia who deserve a second chance,” said FACE executive director Danae Davis. “You can truly make your spring cleaning life-saving this year by supporting this fantastic event.” To register for or donate, visit

What happens in vagus

Stimulating the vagus nerve in the neck may help ease pain associated with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a recent study conducted at UC San Diego School of Medicine and published in the medical journal PLOS ONE.

In a trial led by UCSD School of Medicine associate professor Imanuel Lerman, participants pre-treated with noninvasive vagus-nerve stimulation experienced less pain after heat stimulation than participants who weren’t.

“Not everyone is the same,” Lerman said. “Some people may need more vagus-nerve stimulation than others to achieve the same outcomes and the necessary frequencies might change over time. So we’ll need to personalize this approach. But we are hopeful and looking forward to the next steps in moving this approach toward the clinic.”

Next, Lerman and colleagues will launch a Veterans Affairs Healthcare System-funded clinical trial in San Diego with military veterans, with and without PTSD. To participate, call (858) 552-8585 or e-mail

UCSD Health gets addiction grant

UC San Diego Health is among 31 California health facilities selected to participate in the California Bridge Program, an accelerated, 18-month training session for healthcare providers designed to enhance access to treatment for patients with opioid use disorder.

“Historically, we could only treat the symptoms of withdrawal or overdose when patients with opioid use disorder presented,” said Daniel Lasoff, UCSD Health emergency physician. “We did not have the resources or medications necessary to prevent patients from going out, using again and coming back to the emergency department with an overdose.”

Funded by a Public Health Institute grant for $260,000, the program provides chosen sites with funding, training and technical assistance to improve and increase access to treatment of acute symptoms, initiation of long-term mediation and referrals to outpatient clinics.

Gulls play with dogs

The San Diego Gulls hockey team has published its 2019 calendar as a benefit for Shelter to Soldier. The “Pucks & Paws Calendar” features 14 players with Shelter to Soldier service dogs on each calendar month.

San Diego-based non-profit, which adopts dogs from local shelters and trains them to become psychiatric service dogs for post-9/11 combat veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Disorder (TBI) and other afflictions associated with traumatic combat experiences.

Unsigned copies of the calendar are $15. A limited number of autographed copies are $30 each. The calendars are available in Section 10 on the concourse at San Diego Gulls games or via their mobile action app ‘DASH Auctions’ (available for iOS and Android users) as a “Buy it Now” item. Visit

Electric car powers medical advance

Scientists at Scripps Research have taken a cue from recent advances made in electric-car batteries to develop safe, cheaper ways to manufacture compounds used in medicine.

Their new method, reported Feb. 22 in Science, avoids safety risks associated with a popular type of chemical reaction known as dissolving metal reduction.

“This could have a major impact on not only the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, but also on the mindset of medicinal chemists who traditionally avoid such chemistry due to safety concerns,” says Scripps Research’s Phil Baran, senior author of the paper.

Salk Institute board adds two members

David Dolby, managing director of Dolby Family Ventures, and Mark Knickrehm, group chief executive at Accenture Strategy, have joined the Salk Institute’s board of trustees. “They both bring an incredible amount of knowledge and experience to the board,” Salk board chair Dan Lewis said. “I know they will be integral in identifying the best paths forward to support research and innovation here at the Institute.”