Eight sea lions have been returned home to the Florida Keys after being evacuated ahead of Hurricane Irma more than two months ago.
Three days before Irma passed through the Keys on Sept. 10, the California sea lions were transported from Theater of the Sea in Islamorada to a marine facility near Sarasota, Fla.
Theater of the Sea curator Beverly Osborne said that the sea lions were evacuated because they are primarily terrestrial marine mammals and there was a risk that they might be hit by flying debris.
The storm caused significant damage to the attraction’s sea lion habitat as well as other facilities, but personnel have rebuilt most damaged facilities.
Theater of the Sea, which has reopened to the public following the storm, began operations in 1946 and is the nation’s second-oldest marine attraction.
Copyright 2017 SW Florida Reporter