When marine mammals are injured, sick or stranded along the coastline of Humboldt and Del Norte counties, the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center (NMMC) takes action. Most marine mammals rescued are rehabilitated at the Center and released back into the ocean. The most common animals you will find there are California Sea Lions, Northern Elephant Seals and Pacific Harbor Seals. While NMMC also rescues porpoise, dolphin, otter and other species of seal, they may be transported to another facility that can provide the additional care required for these animals. Whales are assisted via the Whale Disentanglement Team that includes the Center’s volunteer staff and veterinarian.
If you encounter a stranded or injured marine mammal, please stay back and keep people and pets away. These animals are in distress and can inflict severe bites and may carry diseases that are transmissible to people and pets. Contact the NMMC on their Stranding/Rescue line, 707-951-4722, to insure immediate help. Be prepared to describe the animal and its location. Remember that seals and sea lions sometimes rest on the beaches and should not be disturbed. Never drive any marine mammal back into the ocean. This does more harm than good in most instances. Harbor seal pups found on the beach are usually not abandoned. They are awaiting the return of feeding mothers. Watch from a distance so that your presence does not keep mothers away.
Educating people about marine mammals and the importance of the delicate marine ecosystem is ongoing. Northcoast Marine Mammal Center is staffed by dedicated volunteers and funded by donations. When you visit, stop by the gift shop and learn how you can help in their efforts to give these marine mammals a second chance at life in the wild.