by Heather Henderson, Stranding Coordinator
On January 11, 2018 honored guests, staff, volunteers, and our first California sea lion pup patient of the season all gathered to officially unveil the new and improved marine mammal rehabilitation enclosures.
We were fortunate to be joined by longtime CWC supporters, actress Shannen Doherty and Malibu City Councilmember Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner. The entire project was made possible with funds from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Mike Remski, Marine Mammal Program Manager, shared CWC’s rehabilitation and response history and details about why this rebuild had become a necessity.
Highlights of the new enclosures include additional drainage with sloping floors, a loading dock that provides access to the vehicles, and enhanced slip-proof entrance stairs. Finally, a redesign of the filtration system will enhance water quality during the busy season. The structure is built above ground, creating the perfect space for a seascape mural, donated and painted by former volunteer and friend of CWC, Ann Jin Chiu.
Throughout the presentation, the first sea lion pup of the season propped herself in the center enclosure, eyes closed and head held high. This body posture is generally displayed by sea lion patients as their health improves, suggesting that they are responding to care, and it is always wonderful to observe. While she was aware of the activity occurring in front of the enclosure, watching her behave in a natural manner is also a delightful sight, since our goal is to nurture these wild instincts. It was a great reminder of why the enclosure is so sorely needed.