My daughter just finished reading “A Dolphin’s Tale” for her 3rd grade book report. The book ‘s story is of a dolphin, who after losing her tale in a crab net, is rehabilitated in a mammal recovery center. She was so moved by the story, that I knew a visit to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach would give her a better idea of who is committed to seeing these animals to recovery and how they do so.
Open every day to the public from 10 am to 4pm, the center is a non-profit that aims to “rescue, medically treat and rehabilitate marine mammals …release healthy animals back to their natural habitat.” While we were there, two young sea lions were frolicking in their pool. Sage, the female sea lion, had been found with her umbilical cord still attached but no mother around. It took her a few months to realize she wasn’t a human girl like the one who had fed her from the beginning.. Two fences separate the public from the sea lions so although you can watch their interactions, you are asked not to speak to them directly or make loud noises around them.
Also while we were visiting, a Girl’s Scout troup was taking a field trip through the facility. Kid’s Club is an after school program for 8 to 12-year-olds that meets once a month. The Marine Mammal center appreciates donations and I saw one family bring Pedialyte for the sea lions and others give to the donation box.
The Pacific Marine Mammal Center is small and there isn’t a lot to “do” after watching these adorable sea lions play. It is a great place to support and to show your children how people are making a difference in an animal’s life. I would make this a great stop off place on your way to the Nix Center for a full day of nature, preservation and learning how to heal our land and animals.
For more info, go to www.pacificmmc.org or www.lagunabeachinfo.com.
Visiting the Pacific Marine Mammal Center was an activity we did after stopping off at the Koi Ponds along the same stretch of road. Both activities can be done in a matter of an hour or so and are quite close to each other.
One of the things I liked about this center is it gave my kids a quick look into how educated and caring people are rescuing sea animals who've been hurt or incapacitated in some way. The staff will talk to you about what animals are there and why and what they're doing to help them. We saw sea lions there who were being nursed back to health after dehydration, as well as ones who had injuries. In this place they get a chance to heal and recover enough to be placed somewhere else - either back into the ocean or in a zoo where they are safe but not prey for stronger, more able-bodied predators.
It is a very quick trip, as the place is small. It is very nice to hear about the work these people do, and I liked that my kids saw this side of things on our vacation. It's nice to see people who do important work like this in a nonthreatening setting. Worth the trip in that regard, and free (although nice to donate or buy from their small gift shop to help a place like this continue its great work).
We dropped in after looking for some free activities in Laguna Beach. My girls LOVED this center so much that we had to return the next day after they gathered up their pennies and nickels to donate to the seals and sea lions.
Although it will only take you a few minutes to go through everything, possibly up to 30 if you read all of the informative signs, it is worth the stop.
My girls (age 7,5 & 2) learned a lot about the marine mammal center, how it operates, and what they could do to help (ie. don't pollute!). I was impressed with the volunteer "tour guides" offering helpful information on the animals and answering any questions.
A small gift shop is usually open and offers a chance to donate more money to the non-profit.
This center does an amazing job of rescuing injured, sick and distressed marine mammals found on the beaches of Orange County. The animals are kept in outdoor pens with pools of water and are cared for, fed and medically aided by a non profit staff and many volunteers.
On our visits, we have seen seals barking loudly for their meals, a seal needing a feeding tube to get his food, and a large elephant seal splashing wildly as he was ready for release.
In our case, it's a quick visit because my boys are not very comfortable around loud, smelly animals. Even with the animals behind a secure fence, they are nervous. But I know it's good for them to see these beautiful creatures and how we can care for them.
Check the website for the many programs available or just stop by for a visit on your way to the beach.