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Volunteers needed to help rescue stranded marine mammals on the Central Coast

elephant seal pup.JPG
Posted at 4:01 PM, Dec 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-28 22:41:08-05

The Marine Mammal Center in Morro Bay is looking for volunteers.

This comes as seal pupping season is now getting underway.

Every winter, hundreds of elephant seals make their way to the Central Coast to breed and have their young.

Unfortunately, the pups do not always make it on their own so that's where The Marine Mammal Center jumps in to help.

"I was actually pretty surprised at the sheer amount of seals that there are on the beach," said Cole Frost of San Diego.

More and more elephant seals pups are starting to pop up on the shore in San Simeon.

"We always have a little guessing game every year in December to see when the first baby is going to be born and the first baby this year was born December 15th," said Polly Tatton, a docent with Friends of the Elephant Seals.

By the end of January, there will be hundreds of pups on the sand.

"They weigh 60, 70 pounds and they get up to... they gain 200 pounds while they are here nursing from their mother and then the mother leaves and then they're on their own," Tatton explained.

The mother leaves the baby after about a month to head north to their feeding grounds and some of the young don't do too well.

"They get really malnourished and emaciated and so at this time we get lots of reports of elephant seals that are very thin, stranding on the beaches," said Aliah Meza, The Marine Mammal Center's Operations Manager in Morro Bay.

Meza says this is the busiest time of year and the volunteers are the backbone of it all.

"They get to rescue marine mammals in need," Meza explained. "Provide care for them once they've been rescued and then eventually get to help them get released back into the ocean."

The Center says weather and ocean conditions also play a role in the number of strandings each year.

But with a dozen seal pups on the beach now, and more and more visitors, The Marine Mammal Center is gearing up for what's to come.

"If you see a marine mammal in need on the beach, make sure you keep a safe distance, don't approach the animal and call our hotline," Meza said.

The Marine Mammal Center Hotline is 415-289-SEAL.

If you're interested in becoming a volunteer with The Marine Mammal Center, the deadline to apply is January 1.

For more information, click here.