You know how when you see a cute baby seal in pictures or in real life you wish you could just pick it up and take it home? Since you can’t actually do that, we did the next best thing, which was to adopt two young Pacific Harbor seals from the Marine Mammal Center. This haven for oceanic creatures like seals and sea lions is a lovely lagoon walk from the HI Marin Headlands hostel, and serves as part museum and part hospital and rehabilitation center for the injured, stranded and sick. In 2015, the center reported that they had rescued more of the puppy-eyed mammals than had ever been recorded in their 40-year history, a phenomenon most likely caused by the rising ocean temperatures and the resulting depletion of food sources. With that in mind, and to honor and support the work the staff and dedicated volunteers do at the Marine Mammal Center in caring for these adorable marine mammals, HI Marin Headlands has adopted two successfully rehabilitated seals named Beemer Cruise and Garnett.
Meet Beemer Cruise and Garnett
Both of the seals adopted by HI Marin Headlands are examples of how human interference with pups can seriously endanger their lives. And importantly, they show the dedication that goes into making sure the center’s patients can eventually return to where they belong. Beemer Cruise was named after the vehicle that rescued her from a family that had taken the pup from a beach in Monterey. Volunteers chased the kidnappers’ RV down in a BMW, and once Beemer was safely handed over, she was taken to the Marine Mammal Center where she was nursed and rehabilitated before going back home to the Pacific. When she was initially found the young harbor seal was healthy, but would have been unable to survive without her mother, so she had to be fed special milk formula with soymilk and vitamins for a few weeks before she could eat fish.
Garnett was a also only a few days old when he was picked up by a well-meaning but ill-informed boater who, like many beachgoers do, mistook the baby seal for an orphan and tried to rescue him. He too was given formula until he was old enough to attend “fish school” where young seals are taught how to identify and catch edible fish so that they can fend for themselves before being released back into the wild. Garnet was recently released at Point Reyes National Seashore, so next time you’re out visiting HI Point Reyes you can try to spot him amongst all the other seals, or just send good thoughts into the ocean.
How to Help
You can support the Marine Mammal Center by visiting and taking one of the docent-led tours to learn more about the facility, and there are also opportunities to become a member, to make donations and even to volunteer if you’ve got the time. Most importantly, you can help by being aware of the impact you may have on the seals when you visit their habitats, and, as hard as it may be, resisting the urge to take one home with you.