North Coast Marine Mammal Center

Latest News

2014 Run for the Seals 5k & 10K Registration Open

August 12, 2014

Humboldt Bay Critter Crawl to Benefit NMMC!

June 17, 2014

The Humboldt Bay Critter Crawl is a non-competitive open water swim to benefit local charities caring for wild and domestic animals in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. This is a current assisted 4.5-mile swim from the opening of the bay along the Eureka city front to the Woodley Island Marina. 

The swim will be held this year on Sunday, July 13th 2014 to benefit the North Coast Marine Mammal Center in Crescent City.

As open water swimmers who love our stretch of ocean, local bay and lagoons, it seems particularly appropriate to dedicate this, our inaugural swim, to helping support the natural denizens of these waters. 

The North Coast Marine Mammal Center is a private non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of marine mammals along the northern most coast of California. Each year the NMMC responds to hundreds of calls about distressed marine mammals, transporting sick and injured animals to their volunteer run facility in Crescent City. The cost of feeding seals and sea lions ranges from $7-15 per animal, per day, in addition to housing, medical care, and transport, among other expenses.


This year the NMMC has taken in record numbers of injured, starving and dehydrated Northern Elephant Seals, severely depleting an already strained budget while previously available operational grants and other resources have dwindled. All donations made to sponsor our swim will directly benefit the NMMC at a time when additional funds are desperately needed.


All this is due to the hard work of Seal Saver Sarah Green and her team. Our sincere thanks Sarah for all your hard work in envisioning this terrific event and working so hard to get it rolling!!


Read about the Critter Crawl in the following Times-Standard newspaper article:


Sponsor the Critter Crawl with your pledge online at:

Register Online at:

NMMC on the Air! ECO News Broadcast 22 May 14

May 21, 2014

At 1:30 pm on Thursday, 22 May, Janet Dickey, Hospital Coordinator for the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center spoke with Jennifer Savage on the Humboldt State University ECO-News radio program.  The broadcast was carried live on both KNSR 90.5 FM and KHSU 91.9 FM.  Please visit The Northcoast Environmental Center’ website at: for more information.


Our sincere thanks to NPR HSU and especially ECO News and Jennifer Savage for continuing to help the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center get the word out about how to advocate for, help save, and support our pinniped neighbors!!


Click on the link below to listen to the interview:








DVM Dr. Wood Wins Best Vet Award 2014

April 27, 2014

Dr. Dennis Wood, DVM was voted the Best Veterinarian 2014 for Del Norte County by the recent Triplicate “Reader’s Choice Awards.”

Dr Wood, founder of the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center, stated, “As founding veterinarian and medical director of the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center since 1985 and member of the Whale Disentanglement Network, I am also priveleged to care for the marine mammals of the Pacific Northwest. Thank you for the opportunity to work in a field that I am passionate aabout and for the honor of serving you and your pets.”

Reader's Choice Award 2014 -- DVM D. Woods


Reader's Choice Award 2014 -- All Creatures


Coolio off to Pittsburgh Zoo

April 26, 2014

Northcoast Marine Mammal Center:

Elephant seal goes airborne


Written by Jessica Cejnar, The Triplicate April 24, 2014 11:11 am


With baited breath Northcoast Marine Mammal Center volunteers, armed with backboards, prevented the 500-pound northern elephant seal from escaping back into his enclosure. More volunteers stationed themselves at the crate’s opposite end. A forklift and a U-Haul truck idled in the parking lot Tuesday, waiting to take Coolio on the first leg of his journey from Crescent City to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium in Pennsylvania.

“I tried to block everybody else out,” said Paluh of Pittsburgh Zoo. Along with the zoo’s assistant curator Paul Moylett, she has been building a relationship with Coolio. “Patience is key with pretty much any animal. I can’t get discouraged. It’s a waiting game.”

Once Coolio was inside, volunteers shut the doors and gently wheeled him to the waiting forklift, which hoisted him onto the U-Haul truck. With Paluh and Moylett on board, the truck wended its way from Del Norte County to Oakland International Airport for a 6:30 a.m. rendezvous with a FedEx cargo plane.

The plane would fly Coolio to Pittsburgh via a short stopover in Memphis, said Dwayne Biggs, the zoo’s
curator of aquatic life.

During the flight, Coolio would be kept as comfortable as possible in a climate-controlled cabin, Biggs said. Moylett and Paluh would be able to check on him, spray him down with ice cold sea water if necessary and feed him. The plane would also take its ascent and descent slower than normal, he said.

Coolio is scheduled to arrive in Pennsylvania at about 6:30 p.m., Biggs said.

“There hasn’t been a male elephant seal on public display in quite a few years,” he said. “This is definitely unique.”

Coolio will trade in his small enclosure and 200-gallon pool at the mammal center’s hospital for a 276,000-gallon pool and a climate-controlled enclosure at the Pittsburgh Zoo’s Water’s Edge exhibit. He will have polar bears and Alaskan sea otters for neighbors.

But the road to stardom hasn’t been easy for the elephant seal, who cannot be released back into the wild because he’s blind in both eyes, said Dr. Dennis Wood, the center’s founder and director. Coolio weighed a paltry 130 pounds, had wounds to his head and damage to his eyes when volunteers found him on Pebble Beach in early November.

Wood said he and the center’s volunteers had hoped to release the seal back into the wild once his wounds and nutrition issues were healed. But when it was apparent that Coolio couldn’t see the fish his caregivers tried to feed him, the center had to either find an institution that could handle a large pinniped or euthanize him.

“Some guys can be completely blind and survive,” Wood said, adding that he knows of another blind elephant seal locally who is “fat and happy.” But “part of the release criteria with the National Marine Fisheries Service is that animals have to be sighted.”

Luckily, the National Marine Fisheries Service has a network of people and institutions who can help when an animal can’t be released. The mammal center began looking for Coolio’s new home in mid-December, when they realized he was blind, and they contacted the Pittsburgh Zoo about six weeks later.

While the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center and Pittsburgh Zoo representatives negotiated Coolio’s transfer, the seal grew. Consuming 30–40 pounds of Pacific herring a day, Coolio gained over 350 pounds. Since he was no longer starving, the center cut down Coolio’s fish consumption to 10 pounds a day, Wood said.

Meanwhile, the center is currently caring for 15 weaned elephant seal pups, the most since its inception in the 1980s, Wood said. He speculated that many of the pups come from a rookery on Castle Rock.

Pups nurse on some of the richest milk in the animal kingdom for about a month, growing from around 75 pounds to 200–300 pounds, Wood said. After it has weaned, the pup will use its fat stores to sustain itself as it learns to swim and hunt, but if there isn’t a food source, the seal could become severely weakened.

Malnourished elephant seal pups have been brought into rehabilitation centers up and down the California coast, Wood said. The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito is currently caring for 90, he said.

Most of the pups at the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center had returned to their birth weight when they were found, some on Humboldt County beaches, Wood said. Volunteers are working to bulk them up, he said.

“We’d like them to be nice and rounded, 150 pounds at most,” Wood said.

Once he is at his new home, Coolio will continue to grow, Biggs said. In the wild, bull northern elephant seals can reach 5,100 pounds. And even though he’s a yearling, Coolio is already starting to grow into the proboscis that gives his species its name.

“We’re really excited,” Biggs said. “In the early 1900s the number of elephant seals was down to a handful. Now there are over 200,000 animals. They are wonderful seals.”

Fundraising via

April 5, 2014

Hey all!

We have started a new fundraising opportunity for the NMMC through

All you need to do is save our website to your favorites tab and whenever you want to shop Amazon, go to our website, click on the Amazon link at the bottom of our page to access…that is it!!

That, and tell all of your friends and family to do the same.

The center will get around 4% of the purchase price just from you accessing it from OUR home page. You don’t have to put anything in, nor will you be charged anything,  we are linked to the program by the url and Amazon tracks it all for us and cuts the center a check! How cool is that??!! Every little bit counts, books for your Kindle, the flat iron you just bought, baseball cleats…darn you could’ve racked up $40 for us in the last 6 months.

None of the purchaser information is saved. The Center doesn’t have access to any payment information, etc. The only thing Amazon tracks are purchases and amounts so they can refund our percentage as one of their qualifying charities!!

Please let me know if you have any questions or trouble finding the link. Thank you, and happy shopping!!

Coolio Moves to Pittsburgh Zoo

March 30, 2014

“Coolio” is OFFICIALLY being transferred to Pittsburgh Zoo!! The necessary paperwork was filed on 03.27.2014. We had a visitor, Paul Moyett, the Assistant Curator of Aquatic Animals for PPG Aquarium (Pittsburgh Zoo) the last week in March. Paul was sent to observe “Coolio”.

“Coolio’s” trainers have already been “skyped” in to see a few of his feeds this week, and are anxiously anticipating his arrival. He will spend the rest of his days in a 276,000 gallon pool! Coolio will be transported in a cage used for polar bears and shipped via FedEx. (FedEx transports most zoo animals across the country.)

“Coolio” is the first Northern Elephant Seal in an aquarium/zoo in the US! 

The Crescent City Triplicate ran a great article about Coolio on 1 April, 2014. You can read it by clicking on the following link:

Coolio Triplicate Article — 1 Apr 14 — 1 of 2

Coolio Triplicate Article — 1 Apr 14 — 2 of 2

NPR ECO News — NMMC Janet Dickey & Jennifer Savage Interview — 27 Mar 14

March 28, 2014

National Public Radio’s Jennifer Savage interviewed the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center’s Hospital Coordinator Janet Dickey by telephone yesterday. The interview lasted a half hour and topics ran the gamut; from the Center’s founding by Dr Dennis Wood, DVM, to California Sea Lion residency in Crescent City Harbor, to the appropriate behaviors to take when coming across a stranded pinniped on a local beach.

If you have the time, please listen to this entertaining and information packed interview!





News Channel 3 — Sea Lion Entanglement

March 24, 2014

“The Spirit of the Northwest,” Channel 3, Eureka, recently ran a televised spot about the recent spate of Sea Lions becoming entangled in lines in Crescent City, California. The Northcoast Marine Mammal Center, located in Crescent City, serves an area encommpassing Eureka and Arcata and ends South of these cities at Shelter Cove. Our Stranding Network regularly brings injured, sick, or abandoned pinnipeds from this area. The article is timely. To read the Channel 3 web version go to the following link:


Four sea lions found entangled in last three months in Crescent City

CRESCENT CITY- A California Sea Lion was found entangled in Crescent City on Sunday.

The North Coast Marine Mammal Center says that this sea lion is the fourth one to be found caught in something over the last three months. Marine officials do not know exactly what the sea lions are getting caught in, and have not been able to break any of them free from their entanglements.

If you come across any marine animal in distress, you can call the North Coast Marine Mammal Center Stranding Line at (707) 951-4722.

Officials also urge you to pick up any rope, wire or plastic you see on the beach.

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March 22, 2014

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