Research


Epidemiology of Emerging Infectious Diseases in Marine Mammals

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Collaboration with Tufts and UC Davis on Morbillivirus and Avian Influenza:
Our patients are the sentinels of our environment. Their intricate involvement on/in both the terrestrial and marine environments is unique and provides a wealth of knowledge.

Their health in relationship to the environment and human pressure is the core of PMMC’s Conservation Medicine, explore further on how PMMC collaborating with top laboratories and Scientist nationwide and is contributing to the scientific understanding of the role of these and other emerging infectious diseases.

PMMC is teaming up with Dr. Tracy Goldstein at the One Health Institute/ Wildlife Health Center at UC Davis Veterinary School, and Dr. Wendy Puryear at Tufts Cummings Veterinary Medicine. Veterinarians and Scientists at PMMC are researching the prevalence of diseases of concern, such as Morbillivirus (distemper), Brucella, Leptospirosis and Influenza in all the patients at PMMC.

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Impact of UV/Sunscreen in seals and sea lions

Collaboration with UConn: Sunscreen products are a necessity to protect yourself from harmful UV rays, but did you know that marine mammals are somehow absorbing chemicals from our sunscreen products? Scientists, initiating this innovative research at PMMC, are collaborating with Sea World San Diego, Marine Mammal Care Center of Los Angeles, Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, and Marine Mammals of Maine to have samples analyzed for UV Blocking Compounds by Dr. Chris Perkins at the University of Conn. Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering.

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Post-Release Monitoring

Post release monitoring is the last step in the rescue, rehabilitation and release process. The information gained from our patients after their release is what drives our husbandry/veterinary practices at PMMC. Through identification of the animals’ satellite tags or flipper tags, citizens helps scientists at PMMC open a window into the animals’ life after release. This is a priority of the national stranding network to conduct post release monitoring.


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Seal Spotter APP

We are excited to announce that, through a 10 week collaboration with engineering students at the UCI Department of Informatics, PMMC has successfully developed and launched a new application called Seal Spotter. This app, which is on both android and iOS platforms, will allow users to take and upload pictures and answer questions about tagged animals that have been spotted in the wild. This will give us a greater ability to track patients from any rehabilitation center and keep tabs on their success after release. 

Since 2013, post release monitoring has higher priority due to the significant increase in numbers of rehabilitated animals treated as a result of the California sea lion unusual mortality event. Through haphazard, non-standardized trial and error, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) has gained an immense data set of resighted animals with the help of PMMC volunteers and scientists. However, we must do better to gather more re-sighting information using what has become one of the most important gadgets in our lives, smart phones.

This project is a fantastic example of accomplishing both research and conservation together. It allowed the UCI students to apply their theoretical learning in a real world scenario as part of their curriculum, while allowing PMMC to develop new technology on a meager budget through the talent and ingenuity of the students. Not only will the app be beneficial to the students’ resumes and help PMMC extend its’ research efforts, it also has features that allow users to learn about marine mammal life history and conservation. The application can be download from both the Google Play and iTunes stores.

A special thank you to all of the hard work done by the Seal Spotter team: Lisa Joseph, Ben Truong, Matt Marano, William Khaine, Lizzy Thorpe, Emily Navarro, Colby Hollabaugh, Kirsten Donald and Keith Matassa.

A special thank you to all of the hard work done by the Seal Spotter team: Lisa Joseph, Ben Truong, Matt Marano, William Khaine, Lizzy Thorpe, Emily Navarro, Colby Hollabaugh, Kirsten Donald and Keith Matassa.


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Past Journal Publications

Smith J, Connell P, Evans RH, Gellene AG, Howard MDA, Jones BH, Kaveggia S, Palmer L, Schnetzer A, Seegers BN, Seubert EL, Tatters AO, Caron DA. 2018. A decade and a half of Pseudo-nitzchia spp. and domoic acid along the coast of southern California. Harmful Algae 79:87-104.

Past Conference Presentations

Finstuen SW, Brandon J, Posacka A, Moore S, Matassa K, Schutes A. Plastics in the Sea: Micro and Macro Impacts. 10th Annual Southern California Marine Mammal Workshop. February 1-2, 2018. Newport Beach, CA.

Past Poster Presentations

Sakamaki K. "Dart-A-Palooza" A 3-day remote dart training event between marine rescue organizations along the California coast. 10th Annual Southern California Marine Mammal Workshop. February 1-2, 2018. Newport Beach, CA.

Matassa K, Donald K, Troung B, Joseph L, Thorpe L, Marano M, Khaine W. Introducing PMMC's Seal Spotter App. 10th Annual Southern California Marine Mammal Workshop. February 1-2, 2018. Newport Beach, CA.