Mexican experts successfully sedated and operated on three sea lions to remove fishing lines that had threatened to strangle the marine mammals, officials said Tuesday.

Mexico's office for environmental protection said the program has now successfully operated on a total of seven sea lions in the area around the island of Espiritu Santo near the Baja California resort of La Paz.

The animals are sedated with acoustically monitored darts, anesthesia and special procedures to allow the animals to be immediately returned to the wild.

The fishing lines often cut deeply into the sea lions' necks.

The office said it is training personnel from the states of Sonora and Baja California to extend the program to other areas.

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Sea lions are considered a protected species in Mexico, but not endangered.

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