If you find a seal, sea lion or otter:

1. Follow the Seven Steps to Help a Stranded Marine Mammal

2. Call The Marine Mammal Center with as much information as you have!  Their Response Hotlines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties:

In Mendocino through San Mateo Counties:
415-289-SEAL (7325)

In San Luis Obispo Counties:

3. The Marine Mammal Center will do the following:

After the Marine Mammal Center is notified of a stranded animal, they rescue the animal only if they determine there is cause to do so. While it is quite normal for pinnipeds to come out onto land and rest, it is not normal for them to do so in populated areas, nor is it normal for healthy adult animals to allow humans to approach.

When taking a rescue call, the Marine Mammal Center’s Stranding Coordinators complete a “Distressed Animal Report.” Questions asked during this initial phone report help determine whether or not further response is necessary. Once the report has been taken, the Marine Mammal Center may dispatch a volunteer to assess the animal and determine whether it should be rescued immediately, monitored for a period of time, relocated, or left alone. If the animal is seriously sick or injured, they assemble a team of volunteers to rescue the animal. The size of the team and the type of equipment taken along is determined by the description of the animal from the caller. So accurate information regarding the size, species, and condition of the animal is very important. It is rather disconcerting to expect a 25-pound pup and find instead a 300-pound adult!

The standard rescue equipment consists of a carrier, herding boards, and hoop net(s). Once the animal is secure in a transport carrier, it is loaded into our rescue vehicle and taken to the Marine Mammal Center. Animals rescued in San Luis ObispoMontereySanta CruzMendocino, and Sonoma counties are generally first stabilized by their local satellite operations before transport. If the trip is long and/or hot, the truck will pull off periodically to hose the animal down, keeping it as cool as possible. Newly-donated, air-conditioned vans support the animals’ comfort during transport from the southern satellite operations.