CIMWI’s Marine Mammal Rescue Program
Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute’s (CIMWI’s) core work is the rescue and rehabilitation of sick, injured, malnourished, orphaned, entangled and oiled marine mammals. CIMWI is the only organization authorized by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service to respond to live and dead pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), live and dead sea turtles, and live cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), rehabilitate live pinnipeds, and triage live cetaceans and sea turtles in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. CIMWI’s jurisdiction encompasses 153 miles of coastline (from the San Luis Obispo/Santa Barbara County line south to the Ventura/Los Angeles County line).
You play a critical role in our organization’s success in responding to marine mammals in distress as we rely on you to report these animals to the CIMWI Rescue Hotline, (805) 567-1505.
To learn more about what to do when you encounter a marine mammal in distress and how to report it, click here.
Assessment and Rescue Overview
Trained and experienced volunteers respond to reports of marine mammals in distress. CIMWI volunteers evaluate the animals and communicate with CIMWI’s Chief Veterinarian to determine the best course of action for each situation. Often times, the animal is just resting onshore and does not need human intervention. There are also times when interfering with nature could make the situation worse for an animal.
CIMWI may deem it is best to put an animal under observation. In these cases, CIMWI volunteers create a safety perimeter around the animal with wooden stakes, flagging tape and educational signs. Volunteers educate beachgoers in the area and periodically check on the animal. There are times an animal may be under observation for multiple days.
Many things can cause a marine mammal to strand and be in need of immediate assistance. Examples include malnourishment, illness, disease, injury, separation, entanglement and human interaction (i.e. boat strikes, fishing net/line entanglement, illegal pick-ups/rescues and gun shots). Once CIMWI has determined it is appropriate to rescue an animal, CIMWI’s goal is to do it safely and as quickly as possible. Animals that are rescued are transported to CIMWI’s rehabilitation facility.