Submitted by the Pacific Marine Mammal Center:
Laguna Beach's Pacific Marine Mammal Center declares their organization in a “state of emergency” as it continues to see an onslaught of California sea lion pups stranding in need of medical attention.
In just the last two days, PMMC has rescued 18 sea lions -- 12 on Saturday -- the highest number of rescues in a single day ever recorded for the organization. The current patient count for PMMC is now at an alarming 86 animals, 84 of which are sea lions.
“The last time we had this many sea lions this early in the year was 15 years ago,” said Director of Animal Care Michele Hunter. “We are seriously concerned about the pace at which animals are stranding, and having the resources to keep up.”
The vast majority are coming ashore severely malnourished and dehydrated, and are significantly underweight for their age. Animals coming in in this condition need intensive care to become healthy enough to release, often requiring a stay of 2-4 months at Pacific Marine Mammal Center.
“Our organization functions as a hospital for marine mammals in need, and offers them the medical care necessary to get the healthy enough to return home. This requires a great deal of resources including space, funds for medicine and food, medical staff time and vehicle transportation to and from the beaches.”
Pacific Marine Mammal Center, who is the only non-profit organization in Orange County licensed to retrieve and care for marine mammals, needs the public help in several ways during this time of crisis.
“First and foremost, we need anyone who sees a seal or sea lion on the beach to back away and call us immediately. We have had a higher number of people chasing the animals back into the water this year, which is the worst thing that can happen to a sick animal. These pups are coming ashore to get warm and rest, and are hauling out of the ocean to survive. We encourage the public to keep their distance, call us to help identify the animal and location, and keep others away until we arrive. This will give us the best possible chance to assist these pups that need our help," says Executive Director Keith Matassa.
“Secondly, we are accepting donations to help our non-profit provide the care the animals need. With this high number of animals, we are going through our financial resources at an alarming rate. Every dollar counts, and anyone able to support us during this time is greatly appreciated.”
How You Can Help
Pacific Marine Mammal Center suggests taking the following actions if a stranded marine mammal is spotted on shore:
- Do not approach the animal. Please keep a distance of 50 yards from the animal.
- Call Pacific Marine Mammal Center at 949-494-3050 to report the exact description and location of the animal.
- Keep others from approaching the animal, as well as any dogs.
- Do not attempt to push or encourage the animal back into the ocean, pour water on the animal, or feed the animal.
- Make a donation. PMMC is a non-profit that depends entirely on public support to respond and care for the county’s marine mammals. You can make a donation by visiting www.pacificmmc.org or calling the center at 949-494-3050 to pledge your support.