2014 was an amazing year for The Marine Mammal Center, one in which a number of milestones were achieved and daunting challenges were faced.
January 2, 2015
The year started off on a high note, with the release of Scoggins, Maryland, and Cerrito at Rodeo Beach. This was followed by a busy pupping season, during which the Center rescued a record number of patients. A big milestone was reached with Epic, the 11,000th sea lion to be rescued by the Center. There were some big stories as well, such as Hoppie the wayward sea lion pup, that was rescued in the Delta, more than 60 miles inland.
A domoic acid outbreak on the central coast, caused by harmful algae blooms, caused many sea lions to become ill early in the year. A continuing shortage of food sources in southern California resulted in a second year of large numbers of sea lion pups stranding on beaches, starving after being weaned too soon from their mothers.
The Center also rescued 179 elephant seal pups, a larger number than usual. Most of them were brought to the Center when they were found abandoned on beaches, separated from their mother at an age when they were too young to fend for themselves.
One of the biggest events of the year was the opening of Ke Kai Ola, the Hawaiian monk seal hospital in Kailua-Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii. The new $32 million facility welcomed its first patients and even released a few of them back to the wild. Ke Kai Ola will play a critical role in restoring the population of this critically endangered species.
The year ended with an influx of northern fur seal pups stranding on beaches throughout California, from Mendocino to San Luis Obispo Counties. Like the elephant seal pups, they were also separated from their mothers and needed some help learning how to eat fish on their own.
On December 26, one of the last days of the year, California sea lion Pauly was released back to the ocean at Rodeo Beach. He was just one of hundreds of seals and sea lions that were released in 2014, after successful treatment at the Center. A group of volunteers and holiday beachgoers were on hand to watch him return home. It's always a gratifying sight to see the difference that people can make in the lives of these flippered creatures.
Years like 2014 put a lot of strain on resources at The Marine Mammal Center, including our committed volunteer force of more than 1,100 people. We could never face these challenges and accomplish so much without the help of our generous supporters. Please help us continue to carry out this important work.
Learn about: California sea lions
Read more about: Domoic Acid Toxicity
Learn how you can: Get Involved to Help Marine Mammals!