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Vote for Your Favorite Marine Mammal Patient of 2013!

Thanks to caring people like you, we rescued over 500 animals last year – from gunshot California sea lions to orphaned harbor seal pups. And while every patient is important, some of their stories leave a lasting impression on staff and volunteers.

January 31, 2014

And the winner of the 2013 favorite Patient of the Year is - drum roll please... Ziggy Star!

Here's the breakdown of how the votes went:

Ziggy Star - Northern fur seal


Fortissima - Northern elephant seal 19.9%
Bumblebee - Pacific harbor seal 15.5%
Angie - California sea lion 10.7%
Cappy - Northern elephant seal 10.1%
Agaptimoss - Pacific harbor seal 7.5%
Cavehermit - California sea lion 6.6%

Thanks to all who participated in this year's voting!

Choose your favorite!

© Ingrid Overgard - The Marine Mammal Center

Fortissima - Northern Elephant Seal

Rescued: Januuary 28, 2013
Diagnosis: Malnutrition, maternal separation

Arriving at the hospital in late January, Fortissima was the first northern elephant seal pup we admitted last year. She had been separated from her mother before she was weaned and wouldn’t have survived without help from The Marine Mammal Center. After four months of dedicated medical care, including being tube-fed a special formula of ground-up fish, she received a clean bill of health and was released at Point Reyes National Seashore. Since then, she’s been spotted hanging out at Treasure Island and Año Nuevo Island looking healthy and strong.
© Ingrid Overgard - The Marine Mammal Center

Bumblebee - Pacific Harbor Seal

Admitted: February 25, 2013
Diagnosis: Malnutrition, maternal separation

Rescued when she was just days old, Bumblebee was the 2,000th harbor seal we’ve admitted to the hospital since 1975. More than 1,500 fans from around the world helped us give her the name Bumblebee. At first, this tiny pup required round-the-clock care, but after several months at our hospital, she began eating fish on her own and showed our veterinary staff that she was ready to head back to her ocean home.
© Ingrid Overgard - The Marine Mammal Center

Angie - California Sea Lion

Admitted: July 24, 2013
Diagnosis: Flipper injury

Rescued from Morro Strand State Beach, Angie arrived at the Center’s hospital with a painful hind flipper injury and was quickly taken into surgery, where part of her left flipper was removed. A week later, her wounds still hadn’t healed and our veterinarians determined that an infection in the bone could be spreading and her best chance of survival would be a full-flipper amputation. After a four-hour surgery and some time to recover, Angie returned to the wild as a three-flippered sea lion.
Ziggy Star
© Adam Ratner - The Marine Mammal Center

Ziggy Star - Northern Fur Seal

Admitted: April 7, 2013
Diagnosis: Malnutrition, encephalopathy (cerebral demyelination)

Northern fur seal Ziggy Star is the only Patient of the Year candidate that is still with us at the Center. Found severely emaciated, Ziggy Star suffers from a serious neurological condition called cerebral demyelination that causes her to have poor coordination and visual impairment. Because it’s not likely that she could survive in the wild, The Marine Mammal Center is looking for a permanent home for her in an appropriate zoo or aquarium.
© Adam Ratner - The Marine Mammal Center

Cappy - Northern Elephant Seal

Admitted: June 15, 2013
Diagnosis: Malnutrition, blindness due to cataracts

This young, male elephant seal was first spotted on the highly populated Fisherman’s Beach in San Luis Obispo County, looking underweight, malnourished and lethargic. A closer examination upon Cappy’s arrival at The Marine Mammal Center revealed that he had cataracts in both eyes and was unable to see. But after four months of rehabilitative care, including cataract surgery that restored vision in his left eye, Cappy was released at Año Nuevo State Reserve, where he was welcomed home by the calls of his fellow elephant seals.
© Jim Oswald - The Marine Mammal Center

Agaptimoss - Pacific Harbor Seal

Admitted: June 21, 2013
Diagnosis: Malnutrition and blindness due to retinal degeneration

When our veterinarians realized this Pacific harbor seal pup had cataracts and was blind in one eye – in addition to being weak and underweight – they were uncertain whether he could ever survive in the wild. But Agaptimoss beat the odds, doubling in size during his 11-week stay. He learned how to forage for food with the help of an enrichment tool that required him to nudge open a box filled with fish. After proving to our staff that he could fend for himself, Agaptimoss was fitted with a satellite tracking tag that allowed us to monitor his location and behavior after his release – and earning him fame as Wired Magazine’s “most wired seal in the world.”
© Adam Ratner - The Marine Mammal Center

Cavehermit - California Sea Lion

Admitted: May 29, 2013
Diagnosis: Malnutrition, jaw injury

This California sea lion pup was found with a severe jaw injury in a cave near Pismo State Beach, earning him the name “Cavehermit.” An orange ID tag told us the young pup had already been admitted twice for rehabilitation in San Diego, but it seems this third time would be his charm. With the help of an animal dentistry expert, our veterinarians were able to repair Cavehermit’s broken jaw and remove an infected tooth. After five months of care, he was happily eating whole fish again and was released at Rodeo Beach, just steps from The Marine Mammal Center’s hospital.


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