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Sea lion impaled with spear rescued off Southern California coast

May 27, 2015: Keith Yip, curator of mammals at SeaWorld San Diego, holds the homemade spear recovered from a sea lion impaled by the weapon.

May 27, 2015: Keith Yip, curator of mammals at SeaWorld San Diego, holds the homemade spear recovered from a sea lion impaled by the weapon.  (AP)

A giant sea lion was rescued off the Southern California coast Tuesday after it was impaled by a homemade spear.

KNBC-TV reports that a team of rescuers spent most of the day searching Channel Islands Harbor before spotting the injured male sea lion nicknamed Bubba. The sea lion is recovering from the injury at SeaWorld.

Rescuers managed to hit Bubba with tranquilizer darts and drag the 600-pound animal out of the water in a net.

Veterinarian Sam Dover discovered that the blade was so deeply embedded that it had to be cut out with a scalpel. Dover says it appeared that Bubba was intentionally stabbed. The spear was taken as evidence. Harming a sea lion is a federal offense.

Bubba is expected to make a full recovery at SeaWorld San Diego and return to the ocean.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.