The Pacific Marine Mammal Center is fortunate to receive grant and foundation funding that allows us to satellite tag and track some of our released animals. Tags can provide us with important information: the movements and location of the animal, dive data (the depth and length of the dive), water temperature and salinity of the water. Other satellite tags just record the animal’s location. This scientific information is invaluable to our research regarding post-release monitoring, and provides PMMC with a small window into the intricate lives of our patients in their natural environment.

Each year, 6 to 8 animals are satellite-tagged and released by PMMC. The tracking device, either a splash or spot tag linked to wildlife computers, sends a signal for approximately 80 days to researchers at PMMC and to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, our collaborating research organization, for analysis.

PMMC wishes to thank all of our satellite tag supporters for their contributions towards this project. If you would like to become involved in our post-release monitoring program please read about our Citizens of Science program. If you would like to sponsor a satellite tag, please email Keith Matassa, PMMC’s Executive Director, at

"Johnny Cash"

On February 7, 2015, 7 pups were brought into PMMC. One of them was a tiny sea lion pup that was found resting against a fire pit ring in Capistrano Beach California. With help from San Clemente Animal Control and another PMMC volunteer, the animal was rescued. At 11:00am, the young pup, nicknamed “Johnny Cash,” arrived at PMMC. He was 22 pounds, 35 inches long and was suffering from severe malnutrition (starvation) and dehydration.

After a little over 2 months of rehabilitation, “Johnny Cash” was medically cleared, tagged in the front left flipper with an orange Roto tag, #22761, as well as satellite tags placed on his upper back. With these satellite tags, provided by Hubbs Research Institute, PMMC and Riverhead Foundation of Marine Research and Preservation are collaborating to monitor “Johnny Cash.”

 On April 18, 2015, “Johnny Cash,” weighing a healthy 60 pounds, was released at Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach, California. The satellite tags on “Johnny Cash” will assist scientists and researchers in comparing the current data to information gathered from similar satellite tags deployed during the 2013 UME.


Satellite Tracking - "Johnny Cash"

Every colored line represents the distance traveled between tracking data relays. For example, the turquoise line is a 24 mile trek recorded between July 31, 2015 and August 2, 2015. Johnny Cash's total miles tracked between July 21, 2015 and August 3, 2015 is 111 miles! We can tell Johnny spends time on the oil rigs located off the coast near Long Beach. These oil rig platforms are favorite resting spots for sea lions.