"The Pacific Marine Mammal Center rescues, rehabilitates and releases marine mammals and
inspires ocean stewardship through research, education and collaboration."
Unlike whales and dolphins, seals and sea lions don't have to remain in water in order to survive. The animals beach themselves to be warm and dry when feeling ill. They seek rest on land for a variety of reasons and are not always in need of intervention. Our staff is trained to recognize animals suffering from infections, malnourishment, pneumonia, gill net strangulation, etc. which can harm an animal's chance for survival.
When a "patient" is admitted, our staff performs all necessary procedures under the direction and protocols set by the Animal Care Director and our Veterinary Medical Director. During the course of rehabilitation, animals require a variety of treatments such as administration of antibiotics and subcutaneous fluids, tube feeding, force feeding, wound care, etc.
Most animals come in dehydrated and the most effective means to provide fluids and nourishment is through tube feeding. The process requires blending of fish, electrolytes, warm water, vitamins, and medication into a fish formula. This formula is fed to the animals by inserting a flexible tube into the stomach using large syringes. As soon as the animals are hydrated and stable, we wean them to eat whole fish.
Once an animal has gained an optimal weight and is competing for food, it's ready for release. Prior to release, each animal is tagged with an identification number. The color-coded tags indicate the animal has been rehabilitated and helps identify the specific animal and care center in case the animal needs care in the future. We strive to return every one of our patients back to the wild once their care with us is complete.
It is not enough to rescue and rehabilitate these animals. We must communicate what needs to be done so that positive change can happen. PMMC strives to inspire ocean stewardship in all generations through sharing the stories of the animals we assist. Over 50,000 people learn about conservation by talking with our education docents and interacting with exhibits in our visitor yard each year. We welcome over 7,000 children, most through our free programs for at-risk communities, in our onsite experiential-based education programs that teach the importance of marine science and eco-friendly behavior. Our outreach team engages thousands of more people in offsite programs, which share the importance of community involvement. Additionally, through distance learning technology, our education department brings conservation messaging to children and adults all over the nation and internationally.
An important part of marine mammal recovery is ongoing research. Research is being done to find the pathological conditions that affect the marine mammals of Southern California. Only through this research are we able to discover the cause-effect relationships that can help us to understand the best means to rehabilitate our marine mammal patients.