The other day, while riding my bike, I came across another hidden treasure of Orange County. The Pacific Marine Mammal Center. Located on Laguna Canyon Road, the center is “dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of marine mammals stranded along the Orange County coastline and to increase public awareness of the marine environment through education and research.”
The center rescues and rehabilitates elephant seals, Pacific harbor seals, California sea lions, and on occasion, Northern fur seals. While I was observing, Joanne, one of the volunteers, was very helpful answering questions about the facility and the work they do there. She also escorted me inside the gates to observe and take pictures from above the holding tanks, while answering questions.
The center’s goal is to rehabilitate the animals and get them back into their natural environment as soon the “guest” is able to compete for food and has gained the optimal weight, if not a little more than their average weight. Joanne informed me they try to put a little extra weight on them so when they are released into the wild, they have some body nourishment to survive off of if they have trouble finding food.

Joker- has nerve damage to mouth and could not eat.


Joker, above, was caught in a net and it caused nerve damage to his mouth. This resulted in an inability to eat. He is on the mend, and is now eating, thanks to the center.
Elephant Seals

Elephant Seals

Sea Lions soon to be released

Sea Lions soon to be released

Click this link to see a small video: Sea Lions
Some things to remember if you find a seal or sea lion on the beach (from the PMMC website):

  • Marine mammals are protected by Federal Law and it is unlawful for unauthorized persons to handle them. Do not touch or feed the animal. Do not try to return the animal to the water. If the animal is ill, it has come on shore to be warm and dry. Feeding a severely malnourished animal can actually harm them!
  • To assure the safety of the public and the animal, please keep others and their pets away from the Pinniped. These are wild animals and they do bite, allowing the opportunity for disease transmittal.
  • From a minimum distance of 100 feet, observe the animal’s physical and behavioral characteristics such as approximate length, weight, fur color, and the presence or absence of external ear flaps. This will help us determine the rescue equipment and the number of volunteers needed. Observe the overall appearance of the animal. Is the animal so thin that you can see its ribs and hip bones? Are there visible wounds? Does the animal have any identification tags or markings?
  • For accurate directions, determine the exact location of the stranded animal. We will not be able to help the animal if we are unable to find it.
  • From the nearest phone, call Pacific Marine Mammal Center immediately at 949.494.3050
  • The center is staffed by volunteers and is a non-profit organization, relying on donations, sponsorship of mammals, and the gift shop. Open every day from 10am-4pm admission to the center is free. For a fee, the center also facilitates field trips, a kids club, and during the summer, day camp. Call 949-494-3050, or email regarding these services.
    For more information on donating or volunteering, check out the Save a Seal section of their site

    Pacific Marine Mammal Center
    20612 Laguna Canyon Road
    Laguna Beach, California, USA 92651

    1 Comment so far

    1. Gina (oc_gina) on October 20th, 2008 @ 1:49 pm

      Great photos, and great post! I never knew their was a rescue station there.

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