Rescuing Noodle, a Molting Elephant Seal and Orange #30461
“[T]his guy is dying on the beach 200 yards north of North Jetty… I don’t know who to call… no tags on it but it’s very sick,” read the email to RB yesterday morning with the above photo attached. A couple of calls/messages later and a two person crew from the North Coast Marine Mammal Center (NCMMC) was headed to the North Jetty hoping to rescue the sick sea lion.
When they arrived on the scene, the 180 pound nearly seven foot animal needed to be carried back over the beach to the truck. Luckily, two members of the Lost Coast 4×4’s were able to pitch in and carry equipment, etc. “[Members of the group] been instrumental in rescuing some of these animals that are deep in the beach,” said Lynda Stockton, the Stranding Coordinator of the North Coast Marine Mammal Center.
Stockton, herself a volunteer, relies on donations of time, money and energy to help rescue hundreds of sea mammals a year on the North Coast.
Yesterday, Noodle, as the sick sea lion was quickly named, was just the first stop for Stockton. Then the two went to Moonstone Beach where an elephant seal was molting to post informational signs encouraging people to stay away and explaining the situation.
Finally, Stockton ended up in Gold Bluff to rescue another sea lion, known only as Orange #30461. This one had previously been released five miles off of San Diego, far from land, just a month before. The creature, that Stockton described as being only “skin and bone” managed to swim hundreds of miles north with what looked like little food.
The three animal calls appear unrelated. But Stockton says there has been a record number of strandings by marine mammals this year. (See National Geographic article here about the sea lion strandings.)
Stockton credits the public with helping them during the crisis. People call the North Coast Marine Mammal crisis hotline (707-951-4722) when they see an animal that appears to be ill. “If it wasn’t for the good people out there walking the beach, we wouldn’t be able to save those we do save,” she said.
The NCMMC wants people to contact them even if the animal appears dead. “We even want to know if there is a dead animal on the beach,” Stockton said. If appropriate, Stockton contacts Humboldt State University. Students count and sometimes dissect the carcasses. (Ziptags on the carcasses are a sign the animal has been counted.)
Sadly, Stockton said that Noodle had passed away from likely kidney failure last night. Yet, she helped two out of three she worked with yesterday so she accepts her losses.
Still, she’s worried. This has been an unusual year at the Marine Mammal Center. Stockton explained, “We’ve had five Guadalupe Seals this year so far. They just don’t come up here. Maybe one shows up every three to four years. There were five already this year.” And other animals besides seals and sea lions need NCMMC’s assistance.
Here’s some ways that you can assist the numerous good folks working to help the sea mammals in our area:
- You can call the hotline (707-951-4722) when you see an ill or recently dead marine mammal.
- You can donate here.
- You can visit the gift shop that is open on the weekend and purchase items. The funds go to supporting the Center.
- Also, you can like their page on Facebook to stay current with their projects.