Fans of Coastal Living Magazine may recognize the Marine Mammal Center here in California, just on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge in the Marin Headlands. Coastal Living regularly "adopts" a sea lion, as part of the MMC's Adopt-a-Seal program.
You might have noticed in the July/August issue of the magazine, Coastal Living has adopted "Arrow" - with a face just too cute for words!
The Adopt-a-Seal program is a wonderful way that you can help! For only a minimum of $30.00 you can adopt one of MMC's former patients, helping to feed and care for the current patients. With your donation, you will receive a ready-to-frame photo of your adoptee, a biography of "your" seal, (or sea lion), a personalized certificate of adoption and the center's e-newsletter. Believe me, these seal patients eat a ton of food, and so many of them need a lot of rehabilitation care! Your donation goes to a very worthy cause.
"Caron's Causes") currently staffed by 45 paid employees, but over 800 volunteers. When I was there last week, MMC had just released 24 animals back into the wild - awesome work! The volunteer at the front desk has been with the center for 26 years, she has seen quite a few patients come and go over the years. Becky told me that this summer they were seeing more injured, ill and malnourished patients than the center usually does. Not good news.... When I was here in January, there were very few patients in the hospital, this time, the pens were full of elephant seals, California Sea Lions, harbor seals, and a rare fur seal.
Volunteers are the backbone of the centers' work, helping with everything from rescue operations, education programs, feeding and caring the patients to working in the gift shop (raising much needed funds!)
The Marine Mammal Center even has a program for students, aged 14-18 to volunteer - what a great idea! The program gives kids an opportunity to help in the hospital and also as education docents.
I think I might try this, don't need to be an expert about marine mammals, they will teach me everything I need to know. Not sure that I would be brave enough to get into the pens with the animals, but I could certainly try! (these volunteers are trying to prevent a few escape artists from roaming the hospital!) Maybe I should volunteer to work in the gift shop?
Education is also an essential piece to what the Marine Mammal Center offers to visitors. Their program engages over 30,000 people a year! The center has several programs for local schools, including the "Whale" Bus bringing outreach right to the schools, using hands-on techniques for students. (dang - why didn't I go to school here??)
"The Center's marine science instructors teach about the importance of marine mammals, the health of the marine environment, and how to become stewards of our oceans. "
This life-like Elephant Seal greets visitors as you wander through the courtyard back to the
viewing areas for the hospital pens. He's enormous!
Malnourished elephant seal - don't worry, I am sure that he/she will be just fine and released soon!
I think this California Sea Lion was feeling much better as he/she was doing a lot of barking that afternoon!
More elephants seals...
If you live anywhere close, I recommend that you take a drive out to the center - they are open every day for visitors. If you can't visit - there is always their fabulous website - http://www.marinemammalcenter.org. Make sure you stop in the gift shop, every little bit helps!