• Sunday , 21 January 2018

The Marine Stranding Center Saving Jersey Shore Wildlife

by Cassie Hepler

Starting in 1978 with a handful of volunteers and a C.E.T.A. grant, The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is a private, non-profit organization. Founder Robert Schoelkopf and his wife, Sheila Dean, along with a small paid staff and volunteers with a wide variety of talents and professional backgrounds, continue to work with the animals. Originally based in Gardner’s Basin in the inlet section of Atlantic City, the Center is now located on the barrier island of Brigantine, which borders coastal New Jersey’s largest wildlife refuge.

When we arrived for a tour of the facilities, there was a lone seal who was paralyzed in his back flipper and would be heading to live a cushy life in an aquarium as he was no match for nature. A few weeks back, a giant sea turtle was being cared for and has since been released back into the ocean.

Working with state and federal government permits, they have responded to over 4,500 strandings of whales, dolphins, seals and sea turtles that have washed ashore over the years. Sometimes the center is occasionally called upon to assist with animals in other states.

The center touts a little gift shop with all sorts of marine life mounted to the ceiling and walls as well as informational documents sprinkled about the store. A huge TV screen with live feed of the lone seal swimming about is to protect the animals from human contact. All these animals are wild and therefore need to be treated that way, Sheila stressed.

All funding comes through donations, grants, memberships, and fundraising efforts. Since there is no permanent funding at this time, donations and membership dollars are vital. Support will help the facility to expand and to care for the increasing number of animals. Without assistance, these creatures have little hope of survival or rehabilitation. The next donation events scheduled are below and on their adorable Facebook page as well.

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To join or receive further information, please contact the Membership Secretary, Marine Mammal Stranding Center, PO Box 773, Brigantine, NJ 08203. Telephone: (609) 266-0538. Email: info@mmsc.org

The first thing we noticed was this funny looking fish on the wall that is fact a real fish called a mola.

The first thing we noticed was this funny looking fish on the wall that is fact a real fish called a mola.

Dads everywhere wish they could catch this beast.

Dads everywhere wish they could catch this beast.

Swimming above our heads, it is an amazing array of what lies beneath.

Swimming above our heads, it is an amazing array of what lies beneath.

This handsome fella seems to be forever caught smiling.

This handsome fella seems to be forever caught smiling.

Of course, everyone loves sharks.

Of course, everyone loves sharks.

This shark has beautiful blue coloring.

This shark has beautiful blue coloring.

A sea turtle and a seal are loaded with fun facts.

A sea turtle and a seal are loaded with fun facts.

A view out the window into the bay shows the location well.

A view out the window into the bay shows the location well.

Leaving just one cigarette butt on the beach can end up inside many animals, the same goes for fishing lines.

Leaving just one cigarette butt on the beach can end up inside many animals, the same goes for fishing lines.

Don't get too close to a seal, those teeth are razor sharp and they posted a story about a woman getting her nose bit off by one!

Don’t get too close to a seal, those teeth are razor sharp and they posted a story about a woman getting her nose bit off by one!

You can adopt a seal at the center like this cute guy.

You can adopt a seal at the center like this cute guy.

The lone seal was not interested in the humans when we came to visit.

The lone seal was not interested in the humans when we came to visit.

So Sheila threw some toys in and tried to tempt him to come closer.

So Sheila threw some toys in and tried to tempt him to come closer.

Spraying water seemed to perk him up as seals are playful animals.

Spraying water seemed to perk him up as seals are playful animals.

This was the closest he crept to us as seals are also naturally curious creatures.

This was the closest he crept to us as seals are also naturally curious creatures.

Into the office we stepped inside for a minute so Sheila could talk shop with her employees.

Into the office we stepped inside for a minute so Sheila could talk shop with her employees.

Rows of these lined the animal spa where they come to be separated and cared for, also with cameras for privacy.

Rows of these lined the animal spa where they come to be separated and cared for, also with cameras for privacy.

Some of the work clothes responders and doctors wear while inside the facility.

Some of the work clothes responders and doctors wear while inside the facility.

Boots to keep the toes dry too.

Boots to keep the toes dry too.

You can also buy a seal framed photo of one of the seals they helped for only $6.

You can also buy a seal framed photo of one of the seals they helped for only $6.

Back to the shop to explore the information some more, there's just so many fascinating things to read!

Back to the shop to explore the information some more, there’s just so many fascinating things to read!

The sheer size of the skulls and teeth are amazing.

The sheer size of the skulls and teeth are amazing.

It almost looks like replicas, but they are real.

It almost looks like replicas, but they are real.

Someone carved some art out of this bone.

Someone carved some art out of this bone.

Whale filters out plankton with these odd looking pieces.

Whale filters out plankton with these odd looking pieces.

Our lone seal came out to play on screen with all the toys we left him!

Our lone seal came out to play on screen with all the toys we left him!

A very picturesque building is the Marine Stranding Center.

A very picturesque building is the Marine Stranding Center.

A huge anchor marks the spot at the center.

A huge anchor marks the spot at the center.

Right next door is the Brigantine Historical Museum.

Right next door is the Brigantine Historical Museum.

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And across the street is the Brigantine lighthouse, certainly worth a day trip to explore. And afterwards, get some Aunt B's ice cream!

And across the street is the Brigantine lighthouse, certainly worth a day trip to explore. And afterwards, get some Aunt B’s ice cream!

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