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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/

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Large Sea Lion Gets Ultrasound

The Center's Dr. Frances Gulland works on an adult California sea lion receiving an ultrasound

Yesterday, the Center admitted a very large patient to its hospital- a 478 lb. adult male California sea lion. The sheer size of an adult male California sea lion always causes a stir among volunteers and staff when one is admitted, and this case was no different. The animal, nicknamed "Dan Perry" had been rescued near Santa Cruz County's Seabright State Beach on November 17th, where it was found lying lethargic and displaying labored breathing. He was rescued by volunteers from the Center's Monterey Bay Operations and transferred to the Sausalito hospital the next day. Today, veterinarians performed an ultrasound on him to attempt to discover the root of his breathing problems, but did not see any overt cause. Unfortunately, Dan Perry died later in the day. A necropsy may give veterinarians more insight into the condition that may have caused his death.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rare Loggerhead Turtle Rescue

Photos: Sue Pemberton

On Monday, November 10th, we admitted a 44.5 lb juvenille loggerhead sea turtle. It was found on Poplar Beach in Half Moon Bay & was rescued by TMMC volunteer Sue Pemberton. The turtle was in stable condition, had barnacles on its flippers & carapace and was fairly active. The turtle, nicknamed Shotgun because it rode "shotgun" in the rescue vehicle, was immediately transported to San Diego SeaWorld for rehabilitation. Volunteers Deborah Gabris, Jenni James and Susan Tripp received the turtle from Sue and helped transport it to Sea World.

The staff at SeaWorld report that Shotgun is currently weak, lethargic & being tube fed twice a day. They have removed the barnacles on the flippers, but left the one on its carapace. Preliminary diagnosis is that it is cold-stunned from being in the cooler waters along our coast. When placed in a warm water tank, the barnacle on the carapace opened up and inside was a shore crab that had hitched a ride!

This is a pretty unique stranding as loggerheads tend to be more of an off-shore species regularly in the waters around Japan. Researchers in Hawaii have occasionally tracked this species a few hundred Km off the central coast, but don’t recall other strandings in the region. This is the first loggerhead stranding we have had. While the Center responds mainly to pinnipeds and ceteceans, rescuers occassionally receive calls for stranded sea turtles. Shotgun is the first loggerhead turtle the Center has rescued in it's 33+ year history.

UPDATE 12-08-08: The center's Stranding Department received the following update from Shotgun's caretakers at Sea World: "The loggerhead has started eating on its own. It’s been receiving around 2lbs of food a day and will be increased to 3lbs this week. The turtle has gained 4lbs since we received it. The overall look of the turtle has improved significantly."

Monday, November 3, 2008

An Unfortunate End

A deceased elephant seal pup in a roadway in Newark . Photo: Gina Sanfilippo

A northern elephant seal pup that turned up in the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Newark, California last Thursday most likely met an unfortunate fate over the weekend.

The Marine Mammal Center responded to a wayward elephant seal pup when it came onto the roadway in Newark on Thursday and caused a highway to be shut down for several hours. However, the pup returned to the water and appeared to be swimming back to the bay before rescuers arrived, and was not spotted again.

On Saturday, the Center responded to another call about a seal in the same area that had wandered onto the road. It is unknown whether or not it was the same seal. However, shortly after the rescuers arrived, the animal died as they prepared to load it into a carrier. Police said the pup had most likely been struck by a vehicle which did not stop, possibly because the driver did not know they had hit it.

A necropsy back at the Center's hospital showed that the 175 lb. pup had significant hemorrhages of the deep muscle, a ruptured spleen, bruising in the lungs, and a fractured skull, among other things, which confirmed the likelihood that it had been hit by a car. It was an unfortunate end to multiple rescue attempts, but we are thankful to the volunteers who responded, as well as the Newark authorities who worked with us.