New SeaLife Rescue Center will help sick, injured marine mammals close to home

Apr 23, 2021, 9:52 AM
The new SeaLife Rescue Center in Des Moines, Washington. (Photo courtesy of SR3/Facebook)
(Photo courtesy of SR3/Facebook)

Puget Sound now has a hospital for ailing water creatures.

SeaLife Response, Rehabilitation and Research (SR3) celebrated the opening of a nonprofit mariner wildlife hospital on Thursday, which was Earth Day. The SeaLife Rescue Center in Des Moines, about 15 miles south of Seattle, will specialize in helping 10 species, including endangered turtles, sea otters, seals, and sea lions.

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Prior to the SeaLife Rescue Center, animals had to be taken to a hospital 800 miles away in California, to the nearest facility of this kind. Now, sick and injured marine mammals in the Pacific Northwest can be treated closer to home. Once the animals are healthy again, they will be released back into the wild.

The new center has a treatment and surgery room, “a very fishy kitchen,” enclosures for young or fragile patients, and outdoor pools. It will also serve as a community resource for information on marine conservation issues as human impacts on the environment are often what leads to the need for an animal to be rescued.

“Marine animals today are suffering from human impacts more than ever before. Animals can be affected directly, becoming entangled in trash or fishing gear, or contaminated from oil spills. Other threats like warming oceans, pollution, and overfishing are less direct but have vast impacts on these animals,” said SR3’s Marine Mammal Veterinarian Greg Frankfurter in a written release.

“As humans continue to impact the environment, facilities like the SeaLife Rescue Center are becoming increasingly important,” Frankfurter said. “By rehabilitating marine animals, we can actually learn a lot about population health, and gain vital insights into the health of our oceans and our planet as a whole.”

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SR3 rescues and protects marine wildlife in the Pacific Northwest, and has a marine wildlife ambulance, response vessel, and specialized veterinary staff. A major focus of this program is the Southern Resident orcas, using drones to collect health data and inform conservation actions.

The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report.

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New SeaLife Rescue Center will help sick, injured marine mammals close to home