Q: What types of animals does Pacific Marine Mammal Center care for?

A: The most common Pinnipeds to Southern California are Northern elephant sealsPacific harbor seals, and California sea lions. Occasionally, we treat Northern fur seals. PMMC is also the only temporary holding facility for small whales and dolphins between Santa Barbara and San Diego.

Q: What is a Pinniped?

A: "PINNIPEDIA" is the scientific name given to all seals, sea lions and walruses. It means, "fin or feather-footed." All seals sea lions and walruses are referred to as Pinnipeds. There are two types of Pinnipeds that we care for at Pacific Marine Mammal Center: the "true seals", belonging to the Family Phocidae and the “eared seals”, belonging to the Family Otariidae.

Q: What is a cetacean?

A: "Cetacea" is the scientific name given to all whales, dolphins and porpoises. All whales, dolphins and porpoises are referred to as cetaceans.


Q: Where do the animals come from?

A: PMMC is responsible for animals stranded on beaches along the Orange County coast. The range extends north to Seal Beach and south to San Onofre. We are a member of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network that services animals along the entire coastline of the United States.

Q: What are the most common problems for stranded Pinnipeds in need of rescue?

A: The majority of the Pinnipeds we rescue are severely malnourished, suffer from dehydration and may have respiratory infections. We also treat animals that are affected by gill net entanglement, fishing line / hooks, human inflicted injuries, shark bites, parasites and various diseases. Trash has also become an increasingly vital concern for the health and safety of our oceans. More information can be found at Project Aware.

Q: How long do the animals remain at the Center?

A: The length of stay varies with each patient and depends on the severity of their medical problems. However, the average length of stay is three months.

Q: How do you decide when an animal is ready for release?

A: The criteria that determine when our patients are ready to be released are sound medical condition, the ability to dive independently and compete for fish while maintaining a healthy body weight.

Q: What is your busiest season?

A: Our busiest season is during late winter and early spring. Late winter / early spring period is the time when pups are weaning from their mothers and are more susceptible to natural medical issues such as malnourishment and dehydration.