Did you know that the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito is the world’s largest marine mammal hospital? The massive former military base currently cares for over 130 injured and sick marine mammals at any given time, and it will finally reopen to the public on Friday, June 3. The 2,700-square-foot visitor center has been completely remodeled and now features interactive touch screens, a new art exhibit, and more. And on top of that, it’s completely free to visit!
Visitors can get a first-hand look at what it takes to rehabilitate and care for marine mammals from our own backyard. Watch meals getting prepared in the Fish Kitchen, take a peek into the laboratory, and check out interactive exhibits that take you through the day-to-day processes of a marine mammal hospital. There’s also a new exhibition of wildlife photography on display by world-renowned photographer Bill Hunnewell. Access to the exhibits is free, but you can pay for a tour for an opportunity to see the animals up close and hear inspiring stories about their treatment.
Animal patients on view tend to vary seasonally depending on migration patterns. Between February and May the hospital cares for more elephant seal pups, with a few harbor seal pups potentially viewable on a behind-the-scenes tour. Beginning in June most of the patients are California sea lion pups, because elephant and harbor seal pups are being rehabilitated and returning to the wild. The Center also takes in sea otters, monk seals, fur seals, and more.
Since 1975, the Marine Mammal Center has rescued over 24,000 marine mammals along the California coast and the Big Island of Hawaii. A workforce of 1,300 volunteers helps to treat and rehabilitate sick and injured animals 365 days a year. The Center also conducts extensive research relating to marine mammal care and ecosystem factors that may threaten the animals’ wellbeing. Accompanying educational programs reach over 100,000 children and adults annually, promoting future generations of scientists and engaged citizens who care about protecting the ocean.
The Marine Mammal Center opens June 3 to the public. Visitors need only reserve a spot ahead of time to see the exhibits in the visitor center. Paid guided tours will take place Friday-Monday beginning July 15, and cost $15 for adults and $7.50 for seniors and students.
Find the Marine Mammal Center at 2000 Bunker Road, at the old military Fort Cronkhite in Sausalito.
Featured image: @themarinemammalcenter via Instagram