The Marine Mammal Center in Marin County, CA, tucks itself into the hills which thrust up from the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. Surrounded by the Marin Headlands section of the Golden Gate National Park it’s a must-see when visiting the hiking trails, hostel, lighthouse or Rodeo Beach.
Lucky for me, my former neighbor Joel works there. He gave me a tour.
There, the staff rehabilitate and hopefully release (sometimes the animals are placed at zoos, sometimes they die) numerous other CA coastal critters including CA sea lions, porpoises, dolphins (though they have low success rates), sea otters, elephant seals, sea lions and harbor seals to name a few. One well-publicized call to duty involved a whale and her calf (Delta and Dawn) stranded WAY up in Sacramento. Badly wounded, the center assisted with their rescue. Antibiotics were delivered via darts and they were “herded” back to the ocean.
Looking from above, the pools spread out. Also present are vets, students, a hospital center, classrooms, water treatment center with pumps, filters, all run by a complex computer program. That’s Joel’s domain. He’s in charge of the infrastructure and maintenance of the place. The statistics and info he gave me made my head spin, most of which I’ve forgotten. It’s been a month.
Joel tending to business:
Of note, oodles of volunteers make this place tick. It’s the sort of thing I could see myself doing.
This little girl was very social. Wriggling along with surprising agility along the edge of her pool, she called out to anyone who passed. Once this staff member entered she hopped into their arms, like a cat, showing (and receiving) affection. She is not a candidate for release into the wild. Found maternally separated, she suffered from pneumonia.
An adult Male CA Sea Lion, he came from San Luis Obispo County. Found malnourished, suffering from Leptospirosis (a bacterial kidney infection) and with tar on his shoulder, here he enjoys his heating pad. He and his neighbor, Silent Night, put up quite the barking commotion in anticipation of feeding time. (Note the tar on the shoulder to the right.)
His story’s one of grand success. Found on a local beach, he suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the head leaving him blind. A full-grown male, he earned his name from his noble stance. He’s now learning to be hand fed in preparation for (what I read to be) a possible transfer to the San Francisco zoo. I’ve been told some fisherman detest the seals for swiping catch from the fishing nets. I wonder, how could anyone harm an animal? Read up on his success story.
Speaking of feeding, Joel took me through the kitchen. I forget the numbers of pounds of fish they go through (dizzying numbers). A volunteer was preparing feeds as I passed through.
Seward, AK (a few hours from Anchorage, I believe) is home to the Alaska SeaLife Center with an aquarium and rescue/rehab center. I’ve added that to the huge list of things to see up here.
After finishing up I hiked up to Battery Townsley. Built in 1938 it housed two 16 inch caliber guns which could fire 25 miles out into the ocean. Being of high-security, civilians knew it existed in their backyards but not where. Imagine that! When actually test-fired it reached further than 30 miles. Now, just relics remain. It makes for an interesting hike.
Looking north, so beautiful:
That ties up CA, folks. Now, on to Alaska. Today I’m prepping for a job interview. After that I’ll start sifting through the hundreds of pics I took while moving up here. It’s beautiful and certainly a change. Looking forward to sharing!