pygmy whale stranding
A recent pygmy whale stranding is a reminder of how it all began for the non-profit MMSC
pygmy whale stranding

Brigantine, NJ – The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is celebrating a milestone in the month of March – 43 years of continuous operation rescuing stranded and otherwise distressed marine mammals and sea turtles in the state of New Jersey. Since 1978 the MMSC has responded to over 5,600 whales, dolphins, seals and sea turtles that have come ashore.

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is the only facility in the State of New Jersey dedicated to the rescue of these aquatic species, relying heavily on donations, grants, fundraisers and gift shop purchases to continue providing life-saving efforts for these fragile animals. Without the tireless work of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, there would be no one to rescue sick and injured marine mammals and sea turtles on our beaches.

A shining example of the dedication of the MMSC and its staff recently transpired on February 12, 2021, when a female pygmy sperm whale stranded in Strathmere in the middle of a winter storm. Despite the treacherous roads and harsh weather conditions, MMSC staff and volunteers responded to the scene to render aide to the struggling whale. Stranding Technician Troy Platt, wearing a dry suit, stayed in the frigid waters for two hours holding the whale upright so she would not drown in the rough surf, while sleet pelted down on them. Despite the rescue team’s best efforts, the whale died on the beach.

This stranding was reminiscent of the event that called the Marine Mammal Stranding Center into existence almost 45 years prior. On March 23, 1976 a young pygmy sperm whale stranded in Atlantic City. Among the experts that were called in to assist the animal was MMSC’s future Founding Director Bob Schoelkopf, who at the time was the Manager of the Steel Pier. The injured whale, named “Semper Paratus” (“Always Ready”- the Coast Guard motto), received intensive round-the-clock care in a wet equipment storage tank at Coast Guard Station Atlantic City. Bob stayed by “SP’s” side, caring for him day and night as the team of biologists, veterinarians and off-duty Coast Guardsmen all worked together to provide supportive care to the whale. Despite their ground-breaking efforts, “SP” lost his fight and succumbed to his injuries three days later. From the tragic loss of “SP” was born the idea that a great need existed for an organization that could help stranded, sick and injured marine mammals in New Jersey. Two years later in March of 1978, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center was founded by Bob Schoelkopf.


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In celebration of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center’s 43rd anniversary, a new website https://mmsc.org/ has been launched, providing visitors with interactive features including current patient updates, stranding statistics updated daily, and a new online store featuring MMSC logo apparel. The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is also active on their social media accounts https://www.facebook.com/njmarinemammal/ and https://www.instagram.com/marinemammalstrandingcenternj/ , featuring daily educational content, patient updates and live videos of seal releases.

About The Marine Mammal Stranding Center

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is a private non-profit organization based in Brigantine, New Jersey. Since the Center’s founding in 1978 staff and volunteers have responded to over 5,600 calls for whales, dolphins, seals and sea turtles that washed ashore on New Jersey beaches. These animals range from five-pound Kemps Ridley Sea Turtles to 25-ton Humpback Whales. For more information visit http://www.mmsc.org/.


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