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Rescue: The Humane Response

Since 1975, we've rescued more than 21,000 marine mammals along 600 miles of Central and Northern California coastline and inland areas. Thanks to people like you who call our rescue lines, we're able to provide a humane response to these animals that otherwise may not have a chance at survival. With a team of dedicated staff and more than 1,200 volunteers, we provide the medical care needed to get as many as we can back to their ocean homes.

Rescue Operations:

The number of animals we rescue varies by season and year, but we've seen an ongoing increase since we began our work more than 35 years ago. Each year, we respond to approximately 600-800 marine mammals that are malnourished, prematurely separated from their mothers, shark bite victims, entangled in marine debris, suffering from illnesses such as domoic acid poisoning and leptospirosis, or sadly, wounded by gunshot. Some of these animals suffer from a combination of these issues.

Our rescue teams are volunteers who are specially trained for rescues of seals, sea lions, sea otters, dolphins, and more, in a variety of locations from beaches to docks to rocky shores.

When an animal is reported, we arrive as quickly as possible, assess the situation, and rescue the animal, if appropriate, freeing it from debris or other entanglements and providing any necessary first aid. When possible, rescued animals are allowed to immediately return to their habitat. Sick, injured, or orphaned animals are brought to our full-service veterinary hospital in Sausalito for treatment.

We're a member of the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program, the NOAA Fisheries national stranding network mandated by the federal government. This network includes over 400 nonprofit organizations, scientific institutions, schools and universities, aquariums, zoos, and government agencies.  Only about 40 of these agencies, like The Marine Mammal Center, are responsible for rehabilitation of marine mammals or sea turtles.

How You Can Help:

Our rescues rely heavily on volunteers whom we train to assess the situation, aid the animals (including administering emergency care) and transporting them if need be. We're always in need of volunteers – see how you could become one and join our efforts. Much rescue work requires special training, but all volunteers can participate in releases or transporting animals. There is something for everyone to do!


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