SJ Attr: Marine Mammal Stranding Center

by C. Cohen | Dec 3, 2002
SJ Attr: Marine Mammal Stranding Center You’ve heard stories about mammals being stranded on East Coast beaches...but did you know that South Jersey is the home of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center? In Brigantine, a few dedicated people work to care for and then release a number of stranded or beached marine animals each year. You can visit them, and you can help them too! Right now, you can visit two seal pups as well as the Center’s museum and gift shop to help support their efforts.

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, it has responded to over 2000 calls for stranded whales, dolphins, seals, and sea turtles that washed ashore on New Jersey beaches. These animals range from a 5lb. Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle to a 25-ton Humpback whale (both of which are endangered species).

Whenever possible, the animals are brought back to the Center for rehabilitation and eventual release. Rehabilitation can last up to several months and cost thousands of dollars for a single animal. Shelia Dean, Co-Director of the Center, says that spends much of her time fundraising so that the animals have the best of care. “I miss working with the animals,” she said, but her efforts to raise the necessary funds make it possible for the Center to keep doing its job.

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is the only organization in the State of New Jersey authorized to rescue and rehabilitate stranded marine mammals and sea turtles. They hold federal and state permits, which are required to work with these protected animals. Currently, there are two full-time stranding technicians and 3 other full-time staff, and a few part-time staff working at the center.

When the Marine Mammal Stranding Center started in 1978, there were 19 strandings in the State of New Jersey. In 1999, the Center responded to 164 strandings. And this year, as of December 2, there have been 122 strandings. Each year, a steady increase of sightings and strandings of marine mammals and sea turtles is reported. In recent years, they have seen animals that are far out of their range strand in New Jersey. Animals such as ringed seals, harp seals, hooded seals and green sea turtles add to their already growing numbers.

Currently, there are two seal pups being cared for at the Center. Visitors to the Center can watch these adorable animals through the windows of the tank. Dean reminds,”these are wild animals, and we want to keep them that way.”

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center sponsors a number of special events during the year to help raise funds for the Center. In July, there's "The Swim for the Dolphins," a 1-mile ocean swim. In September, there's a golf tournament; and in October, there's a 5K run. Be sure to check our events calendar or for dates and more information about these events for 2003.

Museum and Gift Shop
The Museum, also known as the Sea Life Education Center, features 25 life-size replicas of marine mammals and fish, all found or stranded in New Jersey waters. In addition, educational displays explain the plight of marine animals that ingest ocean debris.

A "Please Touch" display of marine mammal bones features a sperm whale's jawbone, dolphin spinal column, skulls, vertebrae and rib bones.

The Center’s gift shop is one of their primary sources of funding. The ever-popular "Cupid the Seal" t-shirts, coffee mugs, window decals, and pins, provide a regular source of funding for the Center so that it can maintain it's operations. In addition to those special items, you can find unique designs of gold and silver jewelry, blanket throws, children’s books and games, and stuffed animals—any of which would make great holiday gifts!

The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is open for visitors on Saturdays and Sundays, from 11am-3pm, until Christmas. Between Christmas and Easter, the Center will be open on Saturdays from 11am-3pm. Hours for the rest of 2003 have not yet been determined.

Location and Directions The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is located on Brigantine Boulevard, in Brigantine.
Follow the Atlantic City Expressway, Route 30, or Route 40/322E into Atlantic City. Follow the signs for the Trump Castle Casino and State Marina. Take Brigantine Bridge (between Harrah's and Trump Castle) into Brigantine. The Marine Mammal Stranding Center is on Brigantine Blvd. on the left, two miles from the top of the bridge, and 100 yards before Lighthouse Circle.

For More Information
For more information, call the Marine Mammal Stranding Center office at (609) 266-0538, or visit their website at

Your donations and membership dollars allow the Center to continue to provide care for the increasing number of animals. Without your help, they cannot help these creatures when they are most in need.

For an extensive list of South Jersey Attractions, with links to websites and other information, check out our Attractions page.

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Author: C. Cohen


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