How long have you been around?

The MMSC was started in 1978 by Robert Schoelkopf and Sheila Dean. The organization celebrated its 42nd anniversary in 2020.

What animals do you help?

We help all marine mammals and sea turtles – this may include seals (Harbor, Gray, Harp, Hooded), dolphins, whales, and even the occasional wayward manatee. The four species of sea turtles that we see in NJ are the Green, Kemp’s Ridley, Loggerhead, and Leatherback.

Where do you help?

We cover all 1,800 miles of tidal coastline and waterways in the state of NJ.

How big is the staff?

We have less than 10 full time employees. We rely very heavily on volunteers all over the state.

Can I help? How do I volunteer?

troy jay volunteertrain

We have different types of volunteers that help the MMSC. In order to become a stranding volunteer, or beach response volunteer, you need to live within 15 minutes of your closest beach, make an appointment to come to our office/museum to fill out the appropriate paperwork, and attend a training session here in Brigantine.             
To become a poolhouse volunteer, we request that you live within an hour of the MMSC, make an appointment to come to our office/museum to fill out the appropriate paperwork, and attend a training session here in Brigantine.
To help with our education/outreach programs - i.e. attend fairs/festivals, give short tours in museum, and help with school programs, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the required paperwork. After that, you will need to attend a short training session at our museum in Brigantine.
We also offer internships for college students - information about these can be found under the Education section of our website.  

What should I do if I see a seal on the beach?

Seals are protected by both state and federal laws – it is therefore illegal to approach and/or touch a seal. Most seals come onto the shore just to take a rest, and if you approach them, they will get scared and may return to the sea before they’re ready. If they’re injured, they will not get the care they need. Please also keep all pets (dogs) away from the animals, as they will most definitely scare them and may also contract any diseases the seal is carrying.
The recommended viewing distance is from at least 150 feet away, and PLEASE give us a call at the MMSC 609-266-0538 to report all sightings.
Whales, Dolphins, and Sea turtles are also protected by state and federal laws – the same rules apply. Please keep a safe distance and call us!
Visit NOAA's website for Seal Viewing Guidelines here:  https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/protected/mmp/viewing/guidelines/seal/seal_viewing_guidelines_card_ac.pdf

What is the most unique animal you have dealt with at the MMSC?

California Sea Lion (escaped from the US Navy’s program), Right Whale in the Delaware River, and the occasional Florida Manatee.

If I come to the Stranding Center, can I see the animals?

We do not allow the public to come into our hospital areas. We must keep them as sanitary as possible and the animals who are there are very sick and in the process of rehabilitating. People in their area would stress them out even more. We do, however, have a large screen TV monitor in the museum, where you can view a live camera feed of any animals that are in the hospital. It's an even better view than what you would see inside the hospital buildings!

How many animals do you help?

Since opening in 1978, we have responded to over 5,100 strandings. An average year sees anywhere from 100-200 animals.

Do you tag the animals you release?

Yes! Seals get a small tag on their rear flipper and sea turtles will get a small metal clip tag on their front flipper. If we have to relocate a seal, we will draw a number on its head with a pink or orange grease marker before release. All of the tags/grease markers that we use do not hinder the movement of these animals.

18 011 R web