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Pictured here with an article written about his work in Leatherneck Magazine
“Bob’s tireless efforts to protect, defend, treat, release and learn from every animal he encountered helped set national standards for working with these animals, impacting the general public’s understanding, appreciation and respect for marine animals. That’s a wonderful legacy.” Says Dr. Ginny Pierce, veterinarian and former MMSC board member.
The vision for what would become the Marine Mammal Stranding Center started with one small whale in need. On March 23, 1976, a young pygmy sperm whale stranded in Atlantic City, NJ in front of Convention Hall. The 1500lb whale was suffering from lacerations and bruises from struggling in the surf. Among the experts that were called in to assist was Bob, who at the time was the Manager of the Steel Pier. With the help of veterinarians and first responders, U.S. Coast Guard personnel slid an inflatable raft under the injured animal and floated it to the Coast Guard base, as Bob tended to the whale inside the raft. A crane was used to carefully hoist the whale and Bob into a Coast Guard wet storage tank filled with seawater. And so began the intensive round-the-clock care of the injured whale, named "Semper Paratus" ("Always Ready"- the Coast Guard motto). 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 ailing 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 and sea turtles in New Jersey. Two years later in March of 1978, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center was founded by Bob Schoelkopf.
What started as an idea inspired by one stranding nearly 47 years ago has become New Jersey’s only organization dedicated to the Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release of marine mammals in the State of New Jersey, responding to over 5,880 marine mammals and sea turtles since being founded.
As Founding Director Emeritus, Bob will maintain an advisory role with MMSC, assisting with the transition of leadership within the organization.