Training

Marine Animal Rescue has conducted thousands of marine animal rescues. In 1998, beach cities throughout Los Angeles County contracted MAR to serve as the primary respondent for injured, sick or orphaned marine mammals and sea birds.

MAR specialists have designed custom rescue and transportation equipment for seals and sea lions. MAR responds to calls 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In 1984, MAR established a 24-hour, live operator hotline that receives calls for assistance and information about stranded marine mammals throughout Southern California.

Peter Wallerstein of MAR hoop netting an adult female sea lion suffering from domoic acid poisoning. Photo: Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Below are a few videos demonstrating how complicated, dangerous and sometimes humorous marine mammal rescues can be from the eyes of the rescuers. You can watch more of these amazing helmet cam videos on the Media page.


Sea Lion Pup Rescued From El Segundo Beach

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Along with the pelican rescues that continue day and night, sea lion pups are stranding, cold, weak and hungry. When you first look at the animal you might think you can just walk up and toss a net over it. Well, if you tried that, the scared pup would beat you to the water and you would miss your chance to help the pup. That's why rescuers always approach slowly with their backs to the water because even the sickest will try to elude the rescue. This pup was successfully rescued from El Segundo Beach.


Various Elephant Seal, Harbor Seal and Sea Lion Pup Rescues

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In these helmet cam video’s you can see the noticeable difference between seal and sea lion rescues. Sea lions, even the little pups are quick and agile on land. Rescuers must use totally different rescue techniques and equipment. Elephant seal pups are slow on land. If an elephant seal pup beats a rescuer to the water, the rescuer should find another line of work. They’re really slow. But, just because they are slow, doesn’t mean they won’t bite. Every rescue demands focus, training and utilizing the proper techniques and equipment.


Sea Lion Suffering From Domoic Acid Poisoning

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This helmet cam footage shows just how things can get out of hand very quickly when conducting marine mammal rescues. These are very disturbing incidents. It’s difficult to see a sea lion so distressed from a brain disorder, most likely caused by domoic acid poisoning. If this rescue was rushed, the outcome could have been very different. The result would have been injuries to the rescuer or on-lookers and an injured or sick sea lion running wild back into the water or worse into the street. 'Once I get this over her, she should be fine'. Those words almost came back to bite me in the butt! Rescuers must be prepared for anything, even with animals that seem too sick to put up a struggle. We are not sure what the future is for this distressed sea lion. All we do know as rescuers is that now the animal is in a much better place than if we had done nothing.


Injured Sea Lions Rescued from Rocks and Harbor Patrol Dock

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The first rescue is a very thin and weak sea lion pup high on the rocks in El Porto. When approaching the pup rescuers don’t want to go too quick for their safety and for the animals. If startled, the pup could jump off the jagged rocks and hurt herself. Slowly approaching on the rocks from below the sea lion, the rescuer attempts to get close enough to place the net over the sea lions before being detected. The second rescue is a skinny 120-pound sea lion who is suffering from a deep flesh wound on the side of her face. The wound was bad, but treatable. This same sea lion eluded rescue a couple of days ago. We didn’t want to miss her again. She’s on the right side of the dock with two other sea lions lying on the other side. If one animal gets spooked, they all jump into the water. We had to approach slowly from the dock without disturbing the other sea lions and when close enough the hoop was placed over the sea lion as she dove into the water. When this happens, rescuers must keep the hoop face down eliminating any chance of the animal escaping. The injured sea lion was successfully rescued with assistance of Los Angeles County Lifeguards, Baywatch Redondo. Both sea lions were immediately transported for medical attention.


Sick Sea Lion Suffering From Seizure Rescued

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This sea lion just woke from having a seizure. You can see how important it is for the rescuer to keep his or her back to the water for attempts like this one.


Dolphin Rescue at Cabrillo Beach

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Dolphin rescued at Cabrillo Beach with assistance from LA City Lifeguards.

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