Dr. Lauren Kane, a veterinary resident at Shedd Aquarium, is in Sausalito, California representing Shedd’s Animal Response Team and assisting The Marine Mammal Center (the Center) with animal strandings as part of their Teaching Hospital program. The Center is the world’s largest marine mammal hospital, and provides year-round care to marine mammals in need alongside conducting scientific research on threats facing wildlife in the area and public education efforts.
While supporting the Center, Dr. Kane has assisted with examining and admitting stranded northern elephant seals, California sea lions and more. Dr. Kane has been able to apply her skills working with California sea lions and sea otters at Shedd, while also learning from the Center’s staff who care for a broad variety of marine mammals at their hospital every year. She also participated in a necropsy for a gray whale, assisting to help determine cause of death for the animal, whose species is currently experiencing an Unusual Mortality Event (UME).
“As the world’s largest marine mammal teaching hospital, we pride ourselves on sharing our marine mammal and ocean health expertise with visiting veterinary professionals, researchers and scientists,” says Dr. Cara Field, Medical Director at The Marine Mammal Center. “It’s been a pleasure to teach and work alongside Dr. Lauren Kane, and exchange knowledge of marine mammal health challenges and solutions. Our hope is that the hands-on skills and knowledge she’s gained here at the Center, as well as the increased understanding of health threats to wild marine mammal populations, will serve her well as she applies them at Shedd Aquarium and in future endeavors.”
Dr. Kane participated in the release of a northern elephant seal, Cabbage, that was rescued by the Center and cared for over several months. While the original cause of his stranding is unclear, experts often see an increase in strandings during pupping season, as pups are sometimes separated from their mothers during storms or weaned too early.
During pupping season, and as people begin to travel more regularly, the Center would like to remind the public to be responsible when observing wildlife. Approaching and interacting with young pups could result in those animals becoming stranded and unable to fend for themselves in the future. In northern California, call the Center’s 24-hour hotline, 415-289-SEAL, to report an animal in distress.
The public can help make a difference for animals like Cabbage no matter where they live by taking small, individual actions to protect our blue planet. Reducing plastic pollution and supporting conservation legislation can have lasting impacts on the health of marine environments for generations. Sign up for Surge, a new digital engagement platform from Shedd, to get the latest conservation action opportunities and tips delivered to your inbox.
VISUALS: Photos of Dr. Lauren’s work and The Marine Mammal Center can be viewed and downloaded here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/0vm43if27l9ne2z/AABSL42aqbH7Pr_2xfnOg-Rma?dl=0.
Photo credit: © The Marine Mammal Center