Who We Are

Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (CIMWI) is an organization made up of dedicated individuals that share the same mission. Our goal is to make a difference through marine mammal rescue, rehabilitation, research and education to promote ocean and human health.

CIMWI’s Board of Directors is made up of professionals that are committed to building a first-class marine mammal institute. Most of the team has a great deal of marine mammal experience (over 165 years cumulatively). These leaders paired with the volunteers that are responsible for the day-to-day operations and strategic execution creates a winning combination. CIMWI Volunteers provide the time, energy and dedication that enable CIMWI to make a difference.

Who We Are

Board of Directors:

Sam Dover, D.V.M. – President

Executive Director and Chief Veterinarian

Ruth Dover – Chief Financial Officer

Director of Business Operations

Terry Bartlett, Esq. – Secretary

Reetz, Fox & Bartlett, LLP – Partner and Attorney

Jim Antrim – Director

SeaWorld San Diego – Vice President, Zoological Operations (retired)

Fred Benko – Director

Condor Express – Owner and Captain

Rick Linnehan, D.V.M. – Director

NASA – Astronaut and Veterinarian

Jim McBain, D.V.M. – Director

SeaWorld Busch Gardens – Vice President, Corporate Veterinary Services (retired)



Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (CIMWI) is an all volunteer organization. There are no paid employees. CIMWI’s volunteer base includes people in both Ventura County and Santa Barbara County.

CIMWI volunteers are responsible for managing the hotline, coordinating responses, making assessments, collecting data on dead stranded animals, performing rescues and transporting animals, as well as caring for and providing medical attention to the animals in rehabilitation and managing releases. Most of CIMWI’s volunteers perform multiple roles in the organization. Aside from working directly with stranded marine mammals, they also assist with education, fundraising, grant writing, website development and maintenance, public relations, groundskeeping, facility maintenance, construction and administration.

If you are interested in volunteering with CIMWI, click here (.doc) or click here (.pdf) to complete CIMWI’s volunteer application. Please email your completed application to info@CIMWI.org or fax it to (805) 963-9684.


CIMWI Partners:

CIMWI is a member of the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Network under the direction of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service. CIMWI is also a member of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network.

CIMWI is committed to cooperating and collaborating with other agencies, organizations, universities and researchers that share our commitment to promote ocean and human health. CIMWI is currently working in cooperation with the following organizations:

  • Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
  • Santa Barbara Zoo
  • The Marine Mammal Center
  • Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
  • SeaWorld San Diego


CIMWI Facility

Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (CIMWI) is located at the historic Vista Del Mar Union School in Gaviota. The Hollister heirs donated the property to CIMWI on May 27, 2011. This gift provides CIMWI with a permanent home.

The organization’s goal is to create a world-class marine mammal institute and this historic school site is a perfect location with 2.81 acres. The combination of classrooms, support buildings and open areas provide ample space for the Institute. The school grounds accommodate outdoor rehabilitation enclosures with pools, while the indoor facilities include a Hospital/Quarantine Room, Laboratory, Pharmacy, Fish Kitchen and Surgery/Treatment Room with a plan for future research facilities, administrative offices and education space.


“The Hollister heirs believe Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute is the perfect fit for the Vista Del Mar Union School property. Over the past seven years, its founders and volunteers have saved the property from further deterioration, maintained the facilities and begun work on restoring the buildings. CIMWI has proved itself as an organization that is dedicated to its mission and has acted with integrity and respect for the historical nature of this property to the Hollister family and Santa Barbara "County.” 

John James (J.J.) Hollister III on behalf of the Hollister Family

“The donation of the Vista Del Mar Union School property from the Hollister heirs is monumental for Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute and we are truly humbled by this and the opportunity to honor the Hollister legacy and preserve the property. This gift provides CIMWI the foundation to exist in perpetuity. It is with great respect for the Hollister family and the historical significance of this property that CIMWI is working to preserve and renovate the school while providing medical treatment and rehabilitative care for marine mammals in need.” 

Dr. Sam Dover, CIMWI’s Executive Director and Chief Veterinarian


“CIMWI is a valued member of the California Marine Mammal Stranding Network and an excellent partner of National Marine Fisheries Service. We look forward to the continued growth of the organization that will be supported by this gift."

Sarah Wilkin, NMFS Southwest Region Stranding Coordinator