Lisa Harper Henderson is a tall blonde. I could imagine her running a health spa for the pampered, but in real-life, she leads the San Luis Obispo County rescue and triage center for the Marine Mammal Center in Morro Bay. http://www.marinemammalcenter.org . Her devotion is obvious. Harper Henderson is a busy woman with about 23 local marine mammal rescues since late February.
I connected with her when I called to inquire about a Pacific harbor seal pup that was stranded in the midst of molting elephant seals at the Piedras Blancas rookery, just north of San Simeon, Ca. “Natalia,” as the pup was named once logged into the Sausalito hospital, is in rehabilitation. Her stranding was not human caused.
But still in full-throttle passion about ghost nets, I wished to narrow this passion from global to local. So I asked, “Lisa, how big is the ghost net problem here on the Central Coast?” Yes, it is a problem, she answered. From Harper Henderson’s view, about 10-20% of their local rescues are from entanglement. While the spring is busy with stranded Pacific harbor seal pups and elephant seal weaners, the rest of the year includes, fishing net-entangled California sea lions and elephant seals.
“Most of the time we can get in and clip the nets off, but sometimes the seal has the nets so deeply embedded into its blubber that we have to consider surgery.” She noted, however, that the survival rate for rescued entangled seals is positive. “But it’s dangerous,” Harper Henderson added, “because most of these seals are large and they cannot be sedated.”
So now I’m thinking, transportation, specialized veterinarian, nurses, medication, food, rehab??? “What does this cost?” I asked.
Harper Henderson said that, yes it is an expensive ordeal for a non-profit. But her concern: The real cost is the health of our ocean.
Yes, I agree and that is why Neptune 911 flowers.
And that nasty North Pacific Gyre, along with local debris, effects local rescue like the one documented in this link: http://www.elephantseal.org/slide_show_files/slides_banded_seal.htm .
Tangling with a global-sized issue like ghost nets, sea trash, and the effects on marine life can overwhelm. Bringing it home can empower local action that will begin to cure the giant malady.
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Update from Marine Mammal Center:
It’s “pupping season,” when so many orphaned harbor and elephant seal pups strand on our beaches. Our campaign to provide for them is well underway.
It’s going to take 60,000 pounds of fish to feed all the pups that will be rescued. It happens to cost $1 a pound. So we have set a goal of raising $60,000 to ensure their care.
Under the care of The Marine Mammal Center, orphaned pups grow and learn to hunt fish on their own so that they can be returned to their ocean home healthy and wild.
Each pup eats about $20 worth of food a day, and typically stays at the Center for about three months. Make your contribution to feed the pups .-