Seattle Aquarium bird and mammal team members Julie Carpenter and Mariko Bushcamp recently traveled to The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California to assist in the care and rehabilitation of sick and injured marine mammals. The Marine Mammal Center is a nonprofit research hospital and educational center dedicated to global conservation of marine mammals through their rescue and rehabilitation work, as well as educational outreach and scientific research efforts.
Julie and Mariko were able to assist in important rehabilitation efforts, learn more about the West Coast marine mammal stranding network, and bring back a wealth of knowledge to the staff and visitors of the Seattle Aquarium. Through this collaborative relationship, we hope to continue to educate people about the critical work being conducted at The Marine Mammal Center and the many environmental issues affecting marine mammals.
Learn about Julie and Mariko’s experience in this five-part blog series.
Most harbor seal pups admitted to The Marine Mammal Center arrive shortly after they are born; many have become orphaned due to human disturbance. Although an adult female can flee to the water to avoid contact with beachgoers and their dogs, their young pups are too small and weak and usually remain on the beach. This separation significantly decreases the pup’s chances for survival.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) protects marine mammals in the United States by prohibiting humans from getting within the length of a football field’s distance from any marine mammal. You can help harbor seals by spreading the message to keep your distance. Click here to print your own NOAA “Share the Shore” sign to post at a beach near you.
Because many of the The Marine Mammal Center’s harbor seal pups are found as newborns, they haven’t developed the strong immune system they would gain from drinking their mother’s milk. For this reason, they’re kept in a separate quarantine area in an effort to protect them from diseases the other patients may harbor. Less restraint is necessary for these little guys and tube feeding must be done gently. Harbor seals have amazing innate instincts and some pups progressed from assisted feeding of whole fish to tracking fish and eating fish thrown into the pool in a single day!