The Malibu Community – Key in the Rescue of Marine Mammals

Sea Lion 17-1 in care

Sea Lion 17-1 is gaining weight in care and doing well.
Photo by Alyssa Schlange

By Heather Henderson, Stranding Coordinator

During this past fall and winter, between rescues calls for marine mammals, California Wildlife Center also worked to improve enclosure space.  Walls were built around one entire pen, to keep the pups warm during the cold spring evenings, when temperatures drop below freezing.  All the planning was well worth it, as just days after the upgrades were completed, the phone rang with reports of a California Sea Lion in need of assistance.  CWC opened the doors to marine mammal rehabilitation earlier than ever before – January 1st.

Sea Lion 17-12

Sea Lion 17-12 was hiding behind some fencing.
Photo courtesy of Kathleen Fanning Lojkovic

There are many challenges associated with performing rescues along the beautiful Malibu coastline.  The first patient of the year was wedged far into a cave in the rocky cliffs.  This location, compounded by the shorter winter days, could have proved unsuccessful had it not been for the caring people in Malibu.

Most rescues are prompted by reports from the public, after sighting an animal in need of supportive or veterinary care.  The simple act of calling our hotline [310 458 9453 (WILD)] is an essential part of the rehabilitation!  Residents and visitors to the Malibu area often go further.  They send photos, provide GPS pins and even remain on site (at a safe distance of 50+ feet) until our rescue team arrives.  They guide us to the animal and let other concerned individuals know that the Marine Mammal Rescue Team is on the way.  These extra steps can be essential to the rescue process, as distressed California Sea Lions will strive to find shelter and can easily blend in with the rocky coastline.  Even when possible to locate without additional information, the photos and enhanced stranding details allow our team to better assess and prepare while en route to the site.  Once there, a more efficient rescue can mean removal from a potentially stressful environment and the ability to provide care sooner.

17-1 in cave

Sea Lion 17-1 was hiding in a cave. CWC staff might never have found it had it not been for help from the community.
Photo by Mira Sorvino

California Wildlife Center’s marine mammal program owes much of its success to the commitment of the people of Malibu for helping us to preserve this one part of what makes Malibu so special.