Save a seal
It’s difficult to think that there may be times when marine mammals are in need of human assistance. But unfortunately, with over 40 miles of coastline in Orange County and lots of boats, trash and the proximity to human society in general, those times are more frequent than one might expect.
The Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) in Laguna Beach is a facility that assists in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of marine mammals that become stranded along the coast of Orange County. Originally founded in 1971 as the Friends of the Sea Lion, PMMC has rescued and cared for nearly 6,000 animals.
Marine mammals become stranded for different reasons, sometimes because of human interaction and sometimes because of natural causes. When the animals because sick, they often strand themselves on the beach. Strandings may involve a single animal or in very rare occasions dozens. When large numbers of strandings happen, it is often caused by the presence of Domoic acid, a marine toxin that naturally occurs during algae blooms and is sometimes referred to as “red tide”.
In 1972, the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed to protect all marine mammals, including cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) and pinnipeds (seals and sea lions). The Act makes it illegal to harass, feed, hunt, capture, collect, or kill any marine mammal. A 1992 amendment also formalized a volunteer stranding network in all coastal states to respond to marine mammal strandings.
The Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) is part of the stranding network and the only organization in Orange County qualified to assist injured pinnipeds and cetaceans. PMMC also provides educational programs for students from pre-school through high school. Their iconic “big, red barn” facility located in Laguna Canyon is open to the public. There is no admission fee, but donations are definitely encouraged.
Pacific Marine Mammal Center - Website
20612 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651 - (949) 494-3050