Authorities in southern California were searching Wednesday for the person who impaled a giant sea lion with a homemade spear and left the 600-pound animal to die.

Los Angeles news station KNBC-TV reports that a team spent much of Tuesday searching Channel Islands Harbor before spotting the injured male sea lion nicknamed Bubba.

Rescuers managed to hit the animal with tranquilizer darts and drag him ashore in a net.

Veterinarian Sam Dover discovered the blade was so deeply embedded that it had to be cut out with a scalpel. Dover says it appears Bubba was intentionally stabbed.

The metal spear was taken as evidence. Harming a sea lion is a federal offense.

Bubba is expected to return to the ocean after recovering at SeaWorld San Diego.

The Associated Press contributed to this report