Welcome to our blog!

The Marine Mammal Center is a nonprofit veterinary hospital, research, and educational center dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of ill and injured marine mammals and the study of their health. Since 1975, the Center has rescued and treated more than 16,500 marine mammals and has accumulated a body of knowledge about marine mammal and ocean health. Through public education about marine mammals, the Center hopes to foster ocean stewardship and conservation. For more information, visit http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Center featured on KQED "Quest"

We were thrilled to take KQED radio reporter Amy Standen and intern Jennifer Skene on a tour of The Marine Mammal Center last week. They were introduced to a few of our sea lion patients, as well as staff and volunteers, and they learned that every animal we treat helps us learn more about marine mammal health and the ocean. Amy reports for the multimedia science series Quest which is about the people behind San Francisco Bay Area science and environmental issues and how their work is changing the way we live. You can listen to Amy's report on September 29 on KQED-FM in San Francisco at 6:33am and 8:33am. If you're sleeping in that morning or do not live in the Bay Area, not to fear. You can listen to the report and see KQED's accompanying slideshow right here!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sticks and Stones

Above, Keevin emerges from his pool. Photo by Marie DeStefanis, volunteer and Tuesday Day Crew Supervisor.

On September 21, the Center rescued a male California sea lion from Moss Landing. The animal was estimated at around 5 years old due to his size, which is right around the age of maturity for male California sea lions. He was lethargic and successfully rescued. This large patient is now resting and under observation at our Sausalito hospital. He is suspected of having domoic acid poisoning, though he has not yet undergone testing to confirm this, and it is unknown whether or not he has any brain damage.

When "Keevin", as he has been nicknamed, was rescued, it was reported that members of the public had been throwing things at him. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. We want to remind people that not only can this harm the animal, but it is also against the law under The Marine Mammal Protection Act. Harassment of marine mammals is taken very seriously and people are convicted and fined for it. If you see a stranded marine mammal, stay back and call our rescue line at 415-289-SEAL. And if you see members of the public harassing marine mammals, please contact us so appropriate action can be taken by the proper authorities if necessary.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Coastal Cleanup Day at Rodeo Beach

Despite the cool and foggy weather, an estimated 100 people from Marin and San Francisco Counties showed up Saturday to pick up and remove trash from Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands. The Marine Mammal Center has been leading this beach cleanup every year since 1996 as part of California Coastal Cleanup Day. Last year, nearly 300 pounds of trash were removed from the beach. Today, volunteers of all ages paired up in groups and filled their bags full of debris such as plastic wrappers, paper and cigarette butts. Two citizens found a 6-7 foot long heavy rubber mat that had washed ashore as well as a tire and rubber tubing. Others waded into Rodeo Lagoon with nets in hand to extract floating garbage.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Here Comes The Sun

It was with great excitement that the staff and volunteers watched the solar panels go up on the new facility's animal pens last week. These solar panels will not only provide a portion of the Center's energy needs when it opens next year, but they will also do double duty as shade structures for the marine mammal patients in our care. The dual-use application of the panels represents the kind of creative architecture and green design that can be found throughout the rebuild project.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Arctic Update

Above, Arctic protests coming out of her pool to be loaded into a crate and weighed on a large scale. *Photos taken from a distance with a zoom lens.

Arctic, the endangered Steller sea lion the Center has been caring for (see previous entry), has been making steady progress. So far, the strict protocol of minimal human contact implemented to reduce her chances of habituation to people seems to be working. We want her to remain as wild as possible so that she can eventually be released back into the the Steller sea lion population. Physically, she is also progressing, and at last week's weigh-in, she weighed 38 kilos (83 lbs). Because even our staff and volunteers have only gotten infrequent glimpses of Arctic, due to her seclusion from people, we took the opportunity to snap some photos to share with you when she was weighed, taken from a distance and with a zoom lens. If Arctic's progress continues, she may be reintegrated into the wild population and have pups of her own one day to increase this dwindling species.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


The Marine Mammal Center was recently contacted by a journalist for information about entanglements and the issue of lost fishing gear's effect on marine mammals for an article about a newly funded UC Davis project to retrieve this marine debris. The project, called the California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Program, will spend a $400,000 grant over the next two years to dive and retrieve lost fishing gear such as traps, hooks, line, and nets.

The effects of lost or abandoned fishing gear on marine mammals are seen regularly by the Center. The most common effects we see are entanglements in fishing nets and fish hooks lodged in a marine mammal's skin. One such animal is Thrasher, a California sea lion currently being treated at the Center. Thrasher was rescued with one fish hook through his lip and one in a flipper. During his rescue and transport yesterday, the first fish hook was dislodged. The hook on his flipper was removed with a pair of wire cutters today at our Sausalito headquarters. See photos above. Hopefully the UC Davis program will diminish the numbers of patients we see with these kinds of conditions.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Hair Raising Mission

The Center is currently caring for 23 sea lions and one lone harbor seal named Salova with a unique ailment. Salova was brought in to the Center on August 23 with a case of alopecia, or a loss of hair. He is being treated for his patches of missing fur with anti-parasite medication, as it is possible the condition is being caused by mites. In the mean time, Salova has a pool to himself and is eager for the fish he receives from volunteers. In the video clip above, he awaits his meal from the pool, checking underwater periodically for fish.