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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/

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...