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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/

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lucky Sea Lions Live to Swim Another Day!

Top left: Water Rescue Team members from The Marine Mammal Center embark on a rescue mission. Top right: Crew members assist an entangled sea lion. Photos: Sue Pemberton

Top left: A crew member carefully removes debris. Top right: Sea lion with visible wound from debris. Photos: Sue Pemberton

Last weekend a regularly scheduled Water Rescue Team outing turned into an adventure resulting in the successful rescue of two sea lions. With an above-average turn out of twelve members, the crew took to the water in search of sea lions in need of help. While many sea lions fall victim to entanglements caused by fishing gear and garbage, it is often difficult to rescue them.

The crew, lead by volunteer Sue Pemberton, surveyed the normal haul-outs and identified three animals in need of assistance. The first sea lion escaped despite efforts made by the crew. The second sea lion, found in an area know as the "Fight Club" by volunteers, was a sub-adult male sea lion hauled out on a rafter with a packing strap around his neck. The crew quickly strategized and decided to dispatch two people into the water. With one person positioning the net in place, the second person swam towards the animal, startling him off the rafter and into the net. The sea lion, weighing about 165 kgs, was too large to restrain; calling on the crew to remove the packing strap from the animal while it was in the net beside the boat. After successfully removing the debris, the sea lion escaped from the net and swam away.

Just when the crew thought they were done for the day, a call came in about another entangled sea lion! This time it was a smaller sea lion with debris wrapped around the top of his head. After being restrained by the team, the sea lion's wound was treated and a hard plastic gasket was carefully removed. He was tagged, measured and released. He was later seen hauled out under the Coast Guard pier. This was a great day for two lucky sea lions, who because of the work of dedicated volunteers, will live to swim another day!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ellies are "A Movin' on Up" at The Center

Top left: Sunnyhazel rests near her new pool. Top right: Alice arrives in style at her new pen.

Top Left: Elephant seal pups as observed from The Center's new observation deck.
Top right: video of the Ellies in their new digs.

The Marine Mammal Center celebrated a milestone today by introducing the first of its elephant seal patients into the hospital’s newly rebuilt pens and pools. The seal pups were all rescued due to malnourishment and will be cared for at the Center by staff and volunteers until they have been fattened up and have developed the strength and fishing skills needed to survive back in the wild.

The new enclosures feature in-ground pools that are easier for elephant seals to get in and out of, an expoxy coating on all surfaces to minimize bacteria and provide for easier cleaning, and a modernized water filtration system to provide cleaner water with better bacteria control.

A total of eight elephant seal pups were transported to their new surroundings via wheel barrow. Alice, the first animal to be moved, took an inaugural dip in her in-ground pool before checking out the rest of her enclosure. All of the pups began to vocalize immediately after transport to the new pens. We hope they were voicing their approval of their new digs!