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Monday, December 13, 2010
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
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
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
Friday, October 15, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
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
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, 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
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
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 recuperates at The Marine Mammal Center.
Tromar is a marine debris entanglement story that thankfully has a happy ending.
Monday, June 28, 2010
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Friday, May 7, 2010
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
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
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
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
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
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:
1. John Litzenberg (Glen Ellen) 22:04
2. Mario Escobedo (San Francisco) 23:13
3. Mark Strawn (San Francisco) 25:10
1. Sara Gigliotti (San Francisco) 25:49
2. Amy Sonstein (San Francisco) 30:12
3. Amie Mazzoni (Clovis) 31:44
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
Best Dressed Dog:
Mottel the Dog
See you next year at the 27th Run for the Seals in 2011!
Friday, March 5, 2010
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.