The MMSC has responded to over 5,600 animals since opening in 1978. In the early years, the Center worked with 3-20 animals in a year. In recent years, we average 120 animals annually. In 2013, we saw our busiest year with 292 animals, with most being bottlenose dolphins from a mass die-off. In 2019, the Center had responded to 11 large whales, which is the most we’ve had in one year.
In the MMSC’s first decade, from 1978 to 1988, the most common species the MMSC rescued included harbor seals, bottlenose dolphins, loggerhead sea turtles, and leatherback sea turtles. In the last 10 years, since 2010, the most common species are grey seals, harbor seals, loggerhead sea turtles, and bottlenose dolphins.
Our stranding information is updated daily to provide the public with the most up to date data we have available.
Director Bob Schoelkopf and Co-Director Sheila Dean assisting a pilot whale.
2021 Total: 146
Cetaceans (Odontocetes): 1,427
Cetaceans (Mysticetes): 112
Unknown Cetaceans: 88
Unknown Seals: 56
Sea Turtles: 2,163
Unknown Turtles: 60
New Jersey seal species visual identification.
Many variables factor into the final cost the MMSC expends for each animal handled. There are more obvious costs, such as medical treatment and food, but even these expenses are far greater than many realize. There are also many underlying expenses that go unnoticed by most. Gas, tolls, employee salary, other medical equipment, and insurances (both personnel and equipment) are all expenses we face with each incoming animal. Here is a better breakdown of all the underlying expenses.
The cost per animal is dependent on the animal’s incoming condition and duration of their stay. The food and medication that a small seal would need is a mere fraction of what an adult seal would need based on animal size, medical needs, and duration of their stay. Fish, pedialyte, baby formula for pups, vitamins, betadine, gauze pads, syringes, and eye drops are all commonly used with most animals that come into our care.
To avoid cross-contamination between animals, the our staff is required to change masks and gloves used between holding pens, ensuring new and clean equipment is used with each animal. Because of this, staff go through PPE and cleaning supplies rather quickly during seal season. We also utilizes boot cleaning pans with disinfectant solution in them to wipe the bottom of work boots clean before walking around the facilities or entering a new animal pen. This solution needs to be replenished and replaced regularly to ensure the most sanitary conditions.
When we reach the peak of seal season, MMSC staff is often driving up and down the New Jersey coast responding to multiple seal calls in a day. Because our team is responsible for 1,800 miles of tidal waterways and coastline, the toll fees and gas expenses build up rather quickly. Transportation of the animals does not stop after they reach the center either, as the release sites we utilize are not always around the corner. Most times, the Center is driving as far north as Sandy Hook, NJ for seal releases which is almost two hours one way.
The MMSC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that relies on donations from our generous supporters, fundraising activities, and some private grants. As you can see, there are a lot of expenses that are directly related to animal care, leaving a smaller portion to pay salaries. On top of salaries, we also have standard bills to pay like utilities and other operating expenses.
If you would like to help with these underlying costs, the MMSC has an
Amazon Wishlist containing items we utilize daily for general operation and animal care. The link is provided below:
The MMSC is very thankful to every donation we receive and we would not be able to continue our work saving New Jersey's marine animals without your support!
Young grey seal in ICU care.