Rehabilitation 2017-04-23T20:48:59+00:00

Rehabilitation & Return to the Wild

Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (CIMWI) provides medical care and rehabilitates marine mammals with the goal of releasing the rehabilitated healthy animals back to their natural, wild environment. Licensed veterinarians are responsible for examination, evaluation and treatment of each patient throughout the rehabilitation process. These individuals practice under the direction of CIMWI’s Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Sam Dover. Dr. Dover has been practicing marine mammal medicine for 29 years.


CIMWI provides medical care and rehabilitates marine mammals that have been rescued in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. CIMWI’s facility supports acute and long-term medical care and rehabilitation. The Hospital has four indoor animal quarantine pens with dry and wet areas. CIMWI’s facility also has eight outdoor dry pens with wet areas which are used for patients as they progress in their rehabilitation as well as two outdoor pens with pools which are used for pre-release conditioning.

Dedicated volunteers provide daily supportive rehabilitation care for the marine mammals in rehabilitation. This includes observing the patients, following treatment plans set by the veterinary team, providing daily nutrition for the animals, veterinary medical treatments and procedures as needed as well as cleaning the holding areas and treatment facilities.

Return to The Wild

Rehabilitated animals will be returned to the wild when they are healthy, have excess body weight and CIMWI has determined their success for thriving back in their natural environment is high. Animals that are returned to the wild are tagged with a roto-tag that has a unique number for research and identification purposes. In effort to facilitate successful re-introductions to the wild, rehabilitated marine mammals are released in groups of two or more if possible and in areas with wild populations of the same species. Releases are done off boats in the waters near one of the Channel Islands which are a part of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and has come to be known as “the Galapagos Islands of North America” or at local beaches with minimal human presence.

Many of CIMWI’s releases are done with the assistance of Island Packers, Southern California’s premier education, recreation and research excursion company cruising to the Channel Islands of California. For more information on Island Packers, click here.