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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/

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Center Examines Three Northern Right Whale Dolphin Carcasses

Photo: Jim Scarff

On May 22, five northern right whale dolphins were discovered, stranded on Santa Rosa Island, 35 miles southwest of Santa Barbara.  Dr. Frances Gulland, from The Marine Mammal Center, worked in conjunction with NOAA to lead a team of scientists to perform necropsy's on three of the carcasses to try to determine cause of death.  It may be months before the team will know what caused these dolphins to strand in this unusual mortality event.  You can read more about this at this link.

Santa Barbara Edhat | Local Stories by Local People

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Young Sea Lion Pup Discovered on Richmond Parkway

Above: "Moody" the California sea lion pup upon arrival to The Marine Mammal Center. Photos by TMMC.

Early Thursday morning around 1:30 A.M. the Center received a call regarding a small California sea lion pup stranded in an usual place. Frightened and alone, the 9-10 month old sea lion was discovered on the Richmond Parkway near Giants Road.

The thirty pound pup appeared to have wandered onto the dangerous expressway in search of food, which is commonly the case in stranded sea lion pups. “Sea lion pups are weaned by nine months, at that time they are learning to survive on their own” explains Stranding Manager Shelbi Stoudt.

The frightened pup hid underneath a police cruiser until corralled by rescuers who then wrapped the small pinniped in a towel and brought it to The Marine Mammal Center. The Center won’t known whether the pup is male or female for a few days, as he or she will need to rest and adjust to its new surroundings.

The malnourished pup will be given a full veterinary examination within the next few days and its treatment will be decided at that time. For now, the pup is safe and resting after a traumatic experience that could have resulted in a grim ending.

The pup has been given the name"Moody" in honor of Richmond police Officer Brad Moody, who died earlier this year in a car accident.

Update 5/26/09- Dr. Frances Gulland announced this morning that Moody has died due to malnourishment. Although Moody's story didn't have a happy ending, the Center can use the information gathered from this case to help future patients.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Elmo Makes a Dramatic Return!

Left: Elmo returns to the Center after bring refurbished by Scientific Art Studio in San Rafael. Photo by TMMC. Right: Frances Gulland, director of veterinary science at the Center, poses with Elmo in courtyard. Photo by TMMC.

The Marine Mammal Center welcomes back a familiar face- Elmo the northern elephant seal! Elmo has been with the Center for over 10 years and after a face lift and new paint job; has found himself a new home in the new courtyard!

Standing tall at over ten feet, the statue of Elmo replicates the actual size of an adult male northern elephant seal. In the wild, male northern elephant seals may grow to over 13 feet (4 m) in length and weigh up to 4,500 pounds (2,000 kg)! The females are much smaller at 10 feet (3 m) in length and 1,500 pounds (600 kg). Elmo is displayed in a fighting stance; a position in which adult males inflate their proboscis (nose) and produce loud roaring-like sounds to establish dominance for mature females .

While he might not have any female counterparts to impress here, his new look is likely to impress visitors at the Center and serves as a great feature to our courtyard!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Marine Mammal Center Celebrates Mother's Day, In a Different Way!

Malnourished harbor seal pup upon admittance in March. Photo by TMMC.Animal care crew members prepare to tube feed pups. Photo by TMMC.
A noticeably larger harbor seal who has began free feeding. Photo by TMMC.A group of harbor seal pups awaiting their fish dinner. Photo by TMMC.

Here at The Marine Mammal Center we're celebrating Mother's Day too, but in a different way! The Center is known for providing year-round care for sick and injured marine mammals, but every spring the Center takes on a new role: mother to the orphaned Harbor seal pups found along the California coast. With over 50 pups on site currently, this makes for a very busy time at the Center.

Arriving at TMMC, the harbor seal pups are typically malnourished from being weaned too early. This can happen when a mother abandons her pup, or when well-meaning citizens find a pup they believe to be abandoned and pick it up or move it. While a seal pup's best chance for survival is to remain with its mother, as mother's milk contains important antibodies that no substitute formula can provide, the Center is able to rehabilitate pups in need.

Upon admittance, the pups are put on a feeding regime; progressing from tube-feedings,to fish school, to free feeding. This week is a special time at the Center because many of the first pups admitted in February have gained significant weight and are now free feeding.

Pups are weighed twice a week. Once a pup attains a certain weight (40-50 pounds for harbor seal pups) and has been determined healthy by the veterinary staff, it will be considered for release. Many of the pups admitted in February and early March are making steady improvement, and may be candidates for release in the coming weeks.