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/

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bring on the Sun!

Scaffolding is erected along the animal care building in preparation for installation of new solar panels. Photo: The Marine Mammal Center

If you're visiting The Marine Mammal Center during the next few weeks (and we hope you do!) you may see some new additions to the facility. Today. a construction crew began putting up scaffolding along the Center's animal care building in preparation to install 80 new photovoltaic panels. Thanks to a generous donation by PG&E, the additional 28 kW cells will help us shave thousands of dollars off of our electrical bill! Work is expected to be completed in January. Thank you PG&E!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Waiting for Her Lucky Day!

Lucky Day recuperating at The Marine Mammal Center.

This blog posting is by volunteer Dina Warren. Dina volunteers on the Saturday night crew.

Lucky Day has returned to The Marine Mammal Center shortly after her release back to the ocean. Originally admitted to The Marine Mammal Center on October 1, 2010, Lucky Day, a juvenile California sea lion, was first rescued at Seacliff State Beach, below the visitor center in Aptos, Santa Cruz. When Lucky Day was found, she was in poor shape, exhibiting depressed behavior, inactivity, and suffering from a heavy discharge from her closed, right eye. Subsequently, she was diagnosed with pneumonia and sacrocystis (a parasitic protozoa that compromises muscle tissue) by the Center’s veterinarian team.

After about a month of care, Lucky Day’s health improved. Her eye healed, and she was eating well. She had even gained enough weight so that veterinarians felt comfortable she would survive in the wild on her own. She was released back into her ocean home at Point Reyes on November 8, 2010.

However, just one week later, Lucky Day was stranded again. This time she was found lying in the middle of Potbelly Beach Road, near Capitola's New Brighton State Beach. She was lethargic, and looking very down. In fact, she was emaciated with most of her ribs showing from malnutrition. Lucky Day had lost over 40 pounds during her time at sea swimming all the way from Point Reyes to Capitola.

Presently, Lucky Day is waiting for a lucky day of her own, and hopefully will make it home before the New Year. Her poor body condition, malnutrition, and possible muscle and heart inflammation will keep her safely recuperating at The Marine Mammal Center for now.

Friday, November 5, 2010

What's All the Noise about? Under Construction...

Construction is underway on the new pools at The Marine Mammal Center.

Lots of folks have been wondering about all of the construction activity around The Marine Mammal Center lately. After the grand opening last year, some people are understandably surprised to see more building going on around here.

The background is that the Center has always planned for this phase to be built. These pools are particularly special as they are very large, in-ground pools. In fact, the pools are 12'x16'x5' deep and can hold an incredible 7,500 gallons each!

The Center needs these three pools for a variety of reasons. The configuration of these pools is ideal to house large numbers of elephant seal pups. They can also be used for isolation and are USDA compliant for housing animals long-term or for research projects.

Although there will be heavy equipment, noise and dust around the Center, we are still open every day as usual. Indeed, the Center is open year-round except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, and New Year's Day. The construction areas are restricted for safety, but the work does not interfere with visiting the Center. All of the fascinating exhibits and viewing areas are still open, just as before. If anything, it's an added bonus to catch the pool construction in action before it's finished!

Want to help with the building of future pools? Join our Fund-A-Need program and help the Center build a quarantine pen for its patients. It is essential that the Center be able to isolate and diagnose new patients before introducing them to the general patient population.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sgt. Nevis's Story Touches Volunteer Sandy Fagin's Heart

Sgt. Nevis has a face anybody could love.
This week's blog is based on the writing of volunteer Sandy Fagin who was moved by the story of Sgt. Nevis.
I have been an education docent for five years at The Marine Mammal Center. Although I live in Sacramento, my passion for the ocean and marine mammals has driven me to confront torrential rainstorms, horrible traffic jams, and a rear-end collision to get my Center "fix".
One day I was at work when I saw the TV image of an obviously injured sea lion who turned out to be Sgt. Nevis. I was immediately hooked: fueled by anger for an unconscionable act and overwhelmed by sadness for an animal that tugs at my heart in a way that I don't even understand.
As the story progressed, I followed every rescue attempt. I cried at each failed rescue attempt and then again when he was finally weak enough to be successfully rescued. I was happy that he was in the best possible hands but still seething at the act that caused his suffering.
One day when I was at the Center, I saw Sgt. Nevis lift his head, look me straight in the eye, and lower his head back to the ground. The reports at this point in time were not good, and I thought for sure that this would be the last time that I would see him.
Happily, over time, Sgt. Nevis grew stronger and a home was found for him at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo. The day before he was to leave for Six Flags, I had the opportunity to serve as a docent on that day and found it to be the most meaningful four hours of my five years of volunteering. What I saw was a 650 pound sea lion taking fish from Center Stranding Manager Shelbi Stoudt in a manner that was more gentle than a dog being fed.
As Shelbi worked with Sgt. Nevis, I was astounded by his intelligence and grace - even at 650 pounds.
I had mixed emotions when he was moved to Six Flags. I was happy that he was healthy but sad that he couldn't return to the ocean. In the end, I'm not sure why Sgt. Nevis is such an important part of me. Maybe it's the love I feel for all animals and the even stranger attraction I have for sea lions, coupled with the brutal actions of man against animal.
My sadness and anger has turned to happiness. I am happy that Sgt. Nevis is healthy and safe. I am happy that the justice system has not allowed this appalling, unlawful act to go unpunished. I am happy that Sgt. Nevis has been a part of my life. Finally, I am happiest and proud to be a part of the Marine Mammal Center, and all of the wonderful and unselfish things that they do to protect and help these beautiful, innocent animals.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Gala: An Evening to Celebrate Merrill Magowan

The Marine Mammal Center Director of Veterinary Science Dr. Bill Van Bonn celebrates with his wife Anna (on the right) and Center Veterinary Intern Dr. Vanessa Fravel.

The Marine Mammal Center's 14th Annual Gala and Auction was a night to remember. Guests wore festive cocktail attire to spend an evening celebrating the spectacular contributions of Merrill Magowan and his family to the Center. Many people wore various shades of bright orange to acknowledge the Giants' recent exciting wins in baseball.

Merrill Magowan and his wife Cinnie came with many of their family members to honor Merrill as the Center's immediate past Chairman. The festive evening included a special "salute" to Merrill and his incredible life. His brother, Peter Magowan, hosted a fun "$64,000 Question" game show episode to show off Merrill's phenomenal knowledge of all things baseball.

The evening also included a Merrill-themed auction inspired by his life which featured amazing adventures and once-in-a-lifetime treats, such as the opening pitch at the Giants game or a week in Hawaii, Spain or Italy - your choice!

A formal beef dinner, cocktails, live music and a dessert buffet completed the evening. If you missed it this year, join us in 2011 for the next Gala!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sgt. Nevis Undergoes Reconstructive Surgery Today

Sgt. Nevis during his stay at The Marine Mammal Center.

Today Sgt. Nevis had first-of-its-kind reconstructive surgery to close the open gunshot wound on his face. You might recall that Sgt. Nevis was the California sea lion that was seriously injured when he was shot by a fisherman in the Sacramento River 10 months ago. In fact, the Center rescued and treated 18 marine mammals, including Sgt. Nevis, that were shot with bullets and pellets last year.

Sadly, that gunshot injury was so severe that it prevented Sgt. Nevis from diving or putting his head under water. It even forced him to modify his breathing. In addition, he was at risk of infection and he wouldn't be able to return to the ocean because he couldn't dive to feed himself.

In fact, this inability to return to the wild was the impetus for the decision to place him at Six Flags in Vallejo, CA. It was at Six Flags that today's surgery was performed. Dr. Praful Ramenini, a human reconstructive surgeon from Washington D.C., flew in to perform the surgery and generously donated his time and services to the effort. He was supported by Center Veterinarian Dr. Bill Van Bonn and Six Flags park veterinary staff.

The surgical team loosened skin just above the wound and stretched it over the open wound during the two hour procedure, with the almost 700-pound marine mammal fully anesthetized. Sgt. Nevis will spend three to four days in dry recovery at Six Flags' Vet Clinic quarantine room before being transferred back to the Seal Cove exhibit.

Speaking of Seal Cove, Sgt. Nevis is already a favorite amongst park staff. He's described as being gentle, patient, smart and quick to learn. In fact, he already has a routine established: he tends to hang out at the exhibit's "beach" with the young female sea lions, Ella and Indigo!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Coastal Clean-Up Day Removes 164 Pounds of Trash from Rodeo Beach!

Volunteers armed with plastic gloves and trash bags head down to the sand to collect ocean trash on Coastal Clean-Up Day 2010.

It was unusually hot on Rodeo Beach, but the weather made for some very productive ocean trash collection on this year's Coastal Clean-Up Day. About 165 volunteers gathered 164 pounds of ocean trash -- that's approximately one pound per volunteer!
What kinds of things were collected? First, 98 pounds of trash were removed. Second, 16 pounds of rusty metal and 50 pounds of wood with nails were collected. In addition, half a table from a boat was found and removed. That brought the grand total of trash up to 164 pounds! But that's not all. The energetic volunteers also collected 8 pounds of recycling.
As usual, some odd items were found: an ear plug, a Halloween spider ring, and a metal snap tie for foundations.
Thank you to everyone who came and helped out! If you weren't able to come, remember that every day of the year can be a coastal clean-up day. There are so many easy things we can do to incorporate this mindset into our everyday activities.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Stop Trashing Our Oceans!

Cinta is a victim of ocean trash.

This month The Marine Mammal Center is launching a campaign called
Stop Trashing Our Oceans! It's a timely reminder given that Coastal Clean-Up Day is right around the corner.

Every year the Center treats animals that are victims of
ocean trash. Examples of ocean trash include ribbons from helium balloons like the ones wrapped around Cinta's flipper in the picture. But other ocean trash items are things like fishing line, netting, soda can plastic rings, and packing straps.

Imagine if everyone thought about how
we are all connected to the ocean before disposing of any trash. By simply reducing the amount of ocean trash, we can similarly reduce the number of animals entangled by ocean trash.

When these animals ingest ocean trash or become
entangled in it, they can become severely injured and even die. Fortunately, Cinta was rescued and treated by the Center. But not all marine mammals are so lucky.

But don't despair! There are many easy things to do to reduce your ocean trash footprint. Get started now by taking a look at our brand new web page on
ocean trash. And while you are online, become a fan on Facebook too!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Learning From Death: Risso's Dolphin

A Risso's dolphin in The Marine Mammal Center necropsy room.

Today the necropsy room was busy with staff conducting research on a Risso's dolphin from Monterey county.

The Risso's dolphin was spotted on August 29th, 2010, at Marina state beach in Marina, California, just north of Sanctuary Resort.

Although it is difficult to see an animal up close that is no longer alive, it is important to remember that we can learn from death. The information gleaned from animals like this one will help other living animals survive and hopefully thrive.

Scientists here at the Center conduct many research projects that can benefit multiple animals in a variety of ways. The information we learn is also used in educational programs.

The Center is careful to use all the information gathered so that even in death, there is life.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tot, a Guadalupe Fur Seal, Wears Her Name Well

Tot, a Guadalupe fur seal, at The Marine Mammal Center.

For such a tiny gal, this little girl fits a lot of charm into a very small package. The dictionary says tot means "babe", "angel" and "darling": all of these descriptions fit Tot perfectly. A little charmer, Tot has captured the hearts of the volunteers and staff during her hospital stay.

Tot is a Guadalupe fur seal. This kind of fur seal is found in Mexico and sometimes off of the California coast. Once there were many of them in California, but they almost became extinct due to hunting for their fur. With protection from the US and Mexican governments, there are now estimated to be over 7,000 Guadalupe fur seals.

Tot was originally released by The Marine Mammal Center on July 18, 2010, by boat just eight miles off of the Farallones islands.

Then, Tot was spotted a mere thirteen days later on Ocean Beach in San Francisco. This is called a "re-strand" at the Center. Emaciated and lethargic, Tot was being approached repeatedly by both people and dogs.

The Center rescued Tot and brought her to the Center for medical evaluation and treatment. Now Tot has gained enough weight and strength to return to her ocean home. Soon she will be released back into the wild. Safe travels, Tot!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Sleeptight": Don't Let the (Bed) Bugs Bite!

A mite under the microscope.

An x-ray of Sleeptight.

Sleeptight is a juvenile male California sea lion admitted to The Marine Mammal Center on July 18th. The animal was very underweight and on physical examination it was apparent he had pneumonia. His lab work showed a very high level of immunoglobulins in the blood, and radiographs confirmed a severe inflammatory reaction in the lungs. The weight loss and the elevated immunoglobulin levels indicated that this problem had been going on for quite some time. Although pneumonia itself is not uncommon, it is unusual to see severe pneumonia in such a young animal.

Vet staff decided to check for slow growing organisms like fungi or even odd things like cancer cells that have spread to the lungs, but they didn’t expect to see what they found.

Center staff ruled out fungi by doing some blood tests. The vet staff and volunteers treated Sleeptight with antibiotics to see if there would be a response to treatment indicating a bacterial pneumonia. Sleeptight didn’t get any better.

They took a look inside the airways and down into the small bronchioles of the lungs with a bronchoscope. The answer was surprising: Mites! Bugs living in the airways! This explained both the lung inflammation and the nature of the chronic change.

Lung mites are rarely reported in pinnipeds or other mammals. There are some lung mites in monkeys, apes, snakes, and birds, but they aren’t seen very often in seals and sea lions. These mites are most likely Orthohalarhacne diminuta related to the common nasal mite, but living in the lungs. There are rare scattered reports of finding them in the airways of fur seals, and at least one sea lion in Germany in 1973.

The good news is that with the correct diagnosis and the subsequent correct treatment, Sleeptight's prognosis is good. Here's to a good night's sleep for Sleeptight here at the Center...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Amgen, a California Sea Lion, Gets a Second Chance

Who says you don't get second chances? Amgen is a female yearling who got just that: a second chance at life.

Amgen was admitted to The Marine Mammal Center on 5/17/10 from Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. When Amgen, a California sea lion, arrived at the Center, she was underweight and suffering from malnutrition. Amgen was treated for malnutrition through a special feeding regimen.

The goal at the Center is to feed the animal 10% of her body weight in whole fish every day. This diet, primarily composed of herring, ensures adequate nutrition and weight gain. Once Amgen's health began to improve, she was put on a maintenance diet which reduced her feed to 5% of her body weight each day.

While at the Center, staff and volunteers are especially careful to limit their interaction with Amgen to only what is absolutely necessary in order to preserve as much of her wild instincts as possible. After all, the ultimate goal is release back into the wild, and therefore the Center's staff must be as mindful as possible of this eventual return to the ocean.

On July 12th, Amgen and nine other animals were returned to the sea at Chimney Rock, Pt. Reyes. Amgen was accompanied by seven other California sea lions and two elephant seals: Adi, Franklin, Leavon, Lil Kiks, Vesper, Kiewit, Dickens, Snout and Jeanne Rae.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tromar Returns to the Wild

Tromar recuperates at The Marine Mammal Center.

Tromar is a marine debris entanglement story that thankfully has a happy ending.

Tromar is a male California sea lion that became entangled in a green multifilament netting. The Marine Mammal Center rescued him from Its Beach in Santa Cruz on May 25, 2010.
Staff and volunteers at the Center removed the netting and nursed Tromar back to health. As his wounds healed, Tromar slowly became strong enough to return to his ocean home.

On July 7, 2010, the Center brought Tromar to Chimney Rock, Pt. Reyes, to be released back into the wild. Along with Tromar, several other California sea lions were released: Paradissi, Mill, Petersen, Vanek, Phobos and Peligro. All of these animals had also been rescued and treated by the Center.

Unfortunately, not all marine mammals entangled in objects that pollute the ocean fare so well. We are all connected to the ocean, and must remember that our actions impact these animals, often all too severely. However, there are many easy things you can incorporate into your daily life to improve the health of the ocean and its inhabitants. Learn what you can do to minimize human impacts on the ocean today!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Strange Birth Places for Sea Lion Pups

Sea lion pups take a nap at The Marine Mammal Center.

In a typical year, sea lion pups are born far from people, usually in remote places. This year was anything but typical. 2010 has been a year for strange birth places, such as Pier 39 and the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. These spots are unusual for two reasons: they are crowded with people and they are located far north of typical rookeries.

Female California sea lions normally give birth in large groups from the California Channel Islands south to Baja California, Mexico. Pups are not normally born in Monterey Bay.

Although we do not know exactly what is causing this unusual pupping year, we can point to some factors that may be involved. Pupping factors similar to 2010 were also seen in 1998 and 1999 - the last major El Nino years. Domoic acid poisoning may also be a contributor to this year of strange birth place patterns for pups.

The scientific community is closely watching and documenting the events from this year. Through these careful observations, we hope to gain additional knowledge about these marine mammals and the health of the ocean.

Want to learn more? Read about what researchers are learning from this year's events, and find out how you can help the Center's current patients.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Marine Mammal Day is a "Giant" Hit!

The Giants' mascot, Lou Seal, celebrates at Marine Mammal Day.

A huge crowd came out to celebrate the 8th annual Marine Mammal Day hosted by the San Francisco Giants and The Marine Mammal Center at AT&T Park. The beloved event encourages fans to learn about the Center's work in rescuing, treating and releasing hundreds of sea lions, seals and other marine mammals each year. This year was particularly important because fans had a chance to help offset the enormous costs the Center has faced in treating one of the highest number of patient admits in the Center's history.

2010 has been extra busy for staff and volunteers who, so far, have admitted over 600 seals, sea lions and other marine mammals. That's more than last year by this same time! The influx of starving animals means the Center will go through well over 60,000 pounds of fish in the process of helping seal and sea lion patients build the strength and weight needed to be released healthy back into the wild.

Starting on Marine Mammal Day through June 30th, Giants fans and the Center's supporters can text the word FISH, a space, and a dollar amount to 27138 to make a donation to support the Center's Dollar-A-Pound challenge and treat a patient to a fish dinner. One dollar buys one pound of fish and ten dollars buys one meal for one pup.

The Marine Mammal Center thanks the San Francisco Giants for their support in making Marine Mammal Day a "Giant" hit!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Nine Animals Released in Honor of World Oceans Day

These five elephant seals were released in honor of World Oceans Day by The Marine Mammal Center: Bernarda, Parker, Florida, SOS Ellie and Lalaland.

The Marine Mammal Center released nine marine mammals in honor of World Oceans Day on June 8, 2010. The four sea lions and five elephant seals had been rescued and nurtured back to health at the Center.

The concept of World Oceans Day is relatively recent. In December 2008, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution declaring June 8 as World Oceans Day. The concept was first proposed in 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. The official designation of World Oceans Day is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the current challenges faced by the international community in connection with the oceans.

What better way to celebrate our connection to the ocean than returning our patients to the wild? The five elephant seals released were Bernarda, Parker, Florida, SOS Ellie and Lalaland. Four sea lions were also released: Krabby Patty, Cashew, Pinto Bean and Lutris.

The release took place in Chimney Rock, Pt. Reyes, California. Learn what you can do to get involved with ocean health today.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tromar the Sea Lion: A Reminder that We are All Connected to the Ocean

The green netting that The Marine Mammal Center successfully removed from around Tromar's neck.

Tromar is a male California sea lion that was rescued on May 25th in Santa Cruz. He was found entangled with a large wad of knotted netting around his lower neck in front of his fore flippers. The netting encircled his head and face causing some serious damage to his right eye. He was also underweight and dehydrated upon arrival at the Center. Fortunately, the staff removed the netting and started him on a course of antibiotics to reduce the chances of an infection spreading.

Tromar serves as yet another reminder of our connection to the ocean. No matter where we live, we are all connected to the ocean. Inland or coastal, everything we do has an impact on the ocean. In fact, about 10% of the animals we rescue each year suffer from some sort of entanglement due to marine debris like packing straps, fishing line, netting and balloon strings.

"What's maddening is that you look at the wide array of reasons why marine mammals strand such as illnesses and malnourishment and this one - marine debris - is something we can control if we just change our behaviors and attitudes about how we discard plastics, fishing line and other trash that becomes marine debris," said Jeff Boehm, executive director at The Marine Mammal Center.

Here are some simple things you can do today to help eliminate this problem:
1. Dispose of fishing lines and lures properly to help keep them out of the ocean. Animals can mistake them for food or become entangled in them.
2. Avoid releasing balloons into the sky as they often end up in the water.
3. Be sure to cut the six-pack plastic rings that come in packages of beverages.

Tromar is still at the Center receiving care. We'll keep you posted on his recovery...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Happy Anniversary Sea Lions!

May 21, 2010
Today The Marine Mammal Center and Pier 39 celebrated the 20th anniversary of the sea lions' arrival to their now famous perch in San Francisco.

With 400 cupcakes and sea lion party hats, it was indeed a joyous occasion. This special anniversary is not only for the sea lions - it also honors the symbiotic partnership between the Center and Pier 39. The Center helps to maintain a healthy sea lion community at Pier 39 and educate the public about the connections we all share with marine mammals and the oceans. Pier 39, in turn, expands the exposure of the Center's work to both visiting locals and tourists.

California sea lions first began to haul out at this spot in January of 1990, just after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Originally numbering only 10-50, the population quickly grew to over 300.

By 2009, there were 1,701 sea lions gathering at Pier 39. But then in November of last year, their numbers began to dwindle after a shift in food source location.

Slowly, the sea lions have started to migrate back to Pier 39. Now the distinctive barking can be heard at the Pier again. Just one more reason to celebrate today...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hospital Food Never Tasted So Good....

Watch this video of sea lions having lunch at The Marine Mammal Center.

May 12, 2010

Just the mere mention of "hospital food" doesn't typically conjure up strong hunger pangs. But here at The Marine Mammal Center lunch is a much anticipated event for both the marine mammals and the Center's visitors.

Feeding protocols vary for every patient at the Center. The type, amount and frequency of food each animal receives depends on the following: species, age, body condition, and specific medical problem.

Sometimes a patient will be suffering from dehydration upon arrival at the Center. The staff and volunteers give the animal an electrolyte solution for rehydration. The electrolyte solution is given either orally or under the skin.

Then the feeding regimen can begin. Pups receive formula via a tube. A volunteer inserts a soft, flexible feeding tube into the marine mammal's stomach via its esophagus.

Once pups have stabilized and their teeth have erupted, they go to "fish school" - volunteers offer easy to "catch" thawed frozen fish. The fish may be dragged through the pool on a string or held with forceps.

Over time, the pup moves on to the next stage: free-feeding. This means the pup must compete with others to get the fish.

Before a patient can be released, he must be able to forage for food on his own. One technique used to ensure this is offering live fish in order to make certain that the animal can track, catch and eat on its own.

Once an animal is free-feeding, volunteers put the fish in the pool and let the animal eat on its own. This competition with other patients simulates most closely what life will be like once they are released back into the ocean.

Bon appetit!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Harbor Seal Imani Returns Home!

Imani heads toward the ocean during his release on May 5, 2010.

Cinco de Mayo 2010 had an added layer of celebration this year: May 5, 2010, was the release date for harbor seal Imani and five other marine mammals. Sea lion Dubois and elephant seals Wrigleyville, Arizona Rhonda, Borderline and Jayde Shepard were released on a gorgeous Wednesday in Pt. Reyes, California.

Imani's story is especially timely. He is a shining example of a marine mammal getting a second chance at life at The Marine Mammal Center. When Imani arrived in early March, he was so young and vulnerable that he still had part of his umbilical cord attached. However, two months later, Imani had more than doubled his weight and learned to feed from a dedicated 24/7 team of staff and volunteers. And because Imani was thriving, he was able to leave the Center's hospital and return to his ocean home.

Although Imani has left, the Center currently still has 65 harbor seals still on-site. How can you help? There are many ways to get involved:

Become a volunteer! We can always use extra hands to help feed these animals. No prior animal care experience necessary. We'll provide you with all the training you will need. See http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/what-you-can-do/volunteer/

Donate! It costs a lot to feed these animals. Join the Dollar-a-Pound challenge today and help us achieve our goal. See http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/about-us/organization-information/awareness-campaigns/dollar-a-pound.html

Learn about our Leave Seals Be campaign and find out what to do if you spot a pup. See http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/about-us/organization-information/awareness-campaigns/

Monday, May 3, 2010

Too Much of a Good Thing? 61 Harbor Seals at The Marine Mammal Center!

A close-up of a group of harbor seal patients currently at The Marine Mammal Center.

Can you have too much of a good thing? The Marine Mammal Center currently has 61 harbor seals on-site. To put that number in perspective, in 2009 the Center admitted a total of 106 harbor seals during the entire year. In 2010 so far, the Center has already admitted 81 harbor seals.

When you come to the Center, you will not see the harbor seal pups. This is because the pups are especially fragile and sensitive to human disturbance. By placing them out of public view, we can limit the impact of human activity on these delicate animals.

But don't despair! There are plenty of other animals on-site and well within public view. Between the 23 California sea lions and the 64 elephant seals, you're guaranteed an eyeful - and an earful! The marine mammals' antics and cackles will keep you entertained and mesmerized for quite some time. Come visit us! We're open to the public daily from 10am until 5pm, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Entering the Belly of a Whale

The Marine Mammal Center crew at work at the necropsy site in Richmond, CA.

Earth Day April 22, 2010

"Call me Ishmael" begins one of the most famous lines in literature in the classic tale of Moby Dick.

In a timely nod to Earth Day, The Marine Mammal Center saw another whale story begin to unfold right here in the Bay Area. On April 20, the Center responded to reports that a 25-foot-long, male Gray whale carcass was floating in the San Francisco Bay between Fort Mason and Alcatraz.

At the Center's request, the U.S. Coast Guard towed the carcass to a beach near the Richmond Bridge to enable Center researchers to perform a necropsy on April 21. The purpose of a necropsy is to gather information about the whale and to try to determine its cause of death.

Today the necropsy was completed, and samples have been sent to the lab. We are now waiting on toxicology results to see if any clue will be given as to the cause of death. This process may take several months.

During the necropsy, researchers noted that the whale was malnourished, but that there were no external signs of trauma.

Upon examination of the whale’s stomach, researchers found evidence of trash including a water bottle cap and other plastic particles.

This finding of trash deep inside the belly of a whale serves as an Earth Day reminder that we are all connected to the ocean.

By helping to reduce our use of plastics and to properly dispose of those plastics, we can indeed make a difference in the health of the ocean and the creatures that live within its waters.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Earth Day is April 22! What Are You Doing to Honor the Planet?

Some volunteers work in animal rescue at The Marine Mammal Center.

April 16, 2010
Earth Day 2010 is rapidly approaching. What better way to honor the planet this Thursday than to start volunteering at The Marine Mammal Center? After all, everything we do is connected to the ocean and the ocean's health is vital to the Earth's survival.

The Marine Mammal Center relies on its invaluable team of over 800 volunteers to keep up with the demands of the tasks at hand. We need help in so many different areas: animal care, science/research, rescue and education.

If you're the type that likes to roll up your sleeves and directly work with the marine mammals, we can help make that happen. No prior experience necessary! We'll make sure you get all the training you need to be safe and effective in this exciting volunteer capacity.

If you'd prefer something a little less hands-on, we have plenty of options for you as well. Some volunteers help out in the administrative offices, the welcome desk or even in the gift shop.

Learn more about the volunteer opportunities on our website here:

Happy Earth Day!

Friday, April 2, 2010

This Joint Is Jumpin'!

Imani, a current patient, in pool at the The Marine Mammal Center's hospital.

April 2, 2010

It's so busy at The Marine Mammal Center right now that you can hear the sounds of the marine mammals before you even enter the building from the parking lot!

We're bursting at the seams with 103 patients currently at the hospital at last count!

Spring means pupping season here, and our annual reminder to the public to Leave Seals Be! Unfortunately, well-intentioned people sometimes separate pups from their mothers when actually the mother may be nearby feeding at sea. When you see a pup, do not touch or move it. Instead, Leave Seals Be and call the Center's 24 hour response hotline instead at (415) 289- SEAL.

Imani, the harbor seal pup pictured above, was rescued on March 4 at Seacliff State Beach in Santa Cruz County. His name means faith and belief in Arabic. He was spotted alone on a beach with no mother in sight. He arrived at the Center with part of his umbilical cord still attached and a shiny lanugo coat which is usually lost before birth.

When Imani was admitted, he weighed just under 22 pounds. Today, thanks to our hospital crew working both day and night to keep him thriving, Imani has gained almost 4 pounds.

Imani needs to be fed five times a day, including one tube feeding during the night. He will be taught how to eat fish before he can return to the ocean.

You can help Imani and other pups by donating to the Center. It costs a significant amount to keep these pups thriving.

$10 = 1 meal for 1 pup

$25 = medication for 1 day for 1 pup

Help feed the pups now...

You can also help by spreading the word about our Leave Seals Be campaign. Remember to call the Center at (415) 289-SEAL. Our hotlines are staffed 24 hours a day. Learn more about Leave Seals Be...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Run for the Seals 2010 Draws a Huge Crowd

March 13, 2010

About 1,000 people laced up their sneakers for the 26th Run for the Seals at The Marine Mammal Center on Saturday, March 13th.

From newborns in strollers to seniors setting a fast pace, lots of folks came to participate in the event. Even costumed dogs were spotted on the course.

All funds raised from the run support the life-saving work of the Center to help sick, injured and orphaned marine mammals.

Medals were awarded to the top three male, female and child runners from the four mile run. There was also a two mile course for those looking for a still challenging but less difficult route.

KFOG's Peter Finch kept the crowd energized as they made their way to the finish line.

The winners included:

Male Runners:
1. John Litzenberg (Glen Ellen) 22:04
2. Mario Escobedo (San Francisco) 23:13
3. Mark Strawn (San Francisco) 25:10

Female Runners:
1. Sara Gigliotti (San Francisco) 25:49
2. Amy Sonstein (San Francisco) 30:12
3. Amie Mazzoni (Clovis) 31:44

Child Runners:
1. Ryan Gallagher (Sacramento) 26:02
2. Garrett Miller (Mill Valley) 35:58
3. Cole Thompson (San Rafael) 35:59

Prizes were given to the best costumes for both humans and dogs:
Best Costume for Families/Adults:
1. Dolphin Pod Mammals In Motion
Monica, Sandy and Gabby Chavez
Katie, Zach and Marcus Jones
Stephanie Burnett
2. Seal
Jaime Peterson

Best Dressed Dog:
Tina Turner
Mottel the Dog

See you next year at the 27th Run for the Seals in 2011!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Marine Mammal Center Grows its Solar Capabilities with a Big Donation

Children from Willow Creek and Oakland Tech celebrate the announcement of PG&E's $150,000 donation to The Marine Mammal Center for a new solar installation. left to right: The Center's Executive Director, Jeff Boehm and PG&E Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Center board member John Simon.

March 4, 2010

Here comes the sun! The break in this week’s rain was timed perfectly as the sun shone brightly on the children gathered from Willow Creek and Oakland Tech schools to celebrate PG&E’s announcement of a $150,000 donation to The Marine Mammal Center for a new solar installation.

PG&E’s $150,000 donation will create a 20 kilowatt solar installation at the Center’s new headquarters. This solar addition with work together with the Center’s current 23 kilowatt array and will allow the Center to produce an additional 35,000 kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable energy. This is the equivalent of powering up to 4 homes! Equally important, the Center will save $4,000 a year just from harnessing the power of the sun!

The Center and PG&E will also work together to incorporate renewable energy principles into the Center’s existing education program. PG&E’s Solar Schools Program www.pge.com/myhome/environment/pge/solarschools/index.shtml teaches students about renewable energy. This award-winning program makes science fun. The program teaches students how their everyday actions can truly affect the environment.

This special partnership between PG&E and the Center will help create the next generation of environmental stewards.