This is the fourth in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.
For more than two decades, Peter Wallerstein has been rescuing marine animals on the coast of California.
In 1985 he founded the Whale Rescue Team, which is now part of Marine Animal Rescue (MAR), a project of Friends of Animals. Peter started a 24-hour hotline for citizens to report stranded or injured marine mammals, and he has personally rescued more than 4,000 marine mammals and birds in Southern California, from stranded dolphins to whales tangled in gillnets.
Thanks to Peter’s persistence, Los Angeles County now has the only professional marine mammal rescue team in the U.S. that conducts hundreds of rescues each year, working 24/7 if needed. In April he conducted 86 marine mammal rescues, 120 for the year so far.
Now Peter is working to address the lack of adequate care facilities for marine mammals. After a decade of work, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has authorized MAR to design, construct and operate a second marine mammal care facility in Los Angeles County.
Peter says that the need for another facility became apparent in the 1980s, when many starving sea lion pups were left on the beach to die. And in 2002, sea lions suffering from domoic acid poisoning filled to capacity LA County’s single marine mammal care center.
Peter wrote via e-mail, “This has been my life for the past couple of decades. I have always shied away from personal recognition, but with the enormous task at hand, if I am fortunate enough to receive this honor, I’m hoping that it would bring attention to the work ahead us and help my vision become a reality.”
Have you voted yet? Check out the other finalists, cast your vote and spread the word! And stay tuned for more spotlighted finalists in the coming days.
- Ocean Roundup: Morbillivirus Strikes the Florida Keys, New Species of Snailfish Discovered in Mariana Trench, and More Posted Mon, December 22, 2014
- Ocean Roundup: Deep Sea Sediments Act as Microplastic Sinks, Risso’s Dolphins Stranding in High Numbers, and More Posted Thu, December 18, 2014
- Photos: Christmas Island's Incredible Red Crab Migration is Underway Posted Mon, December 22, 2014
- Ocean Roundup: Task Force Releases Recommendations on Seafood Fraud, Sea Otters Critical to Healthy Marshes, and More Posted Tue, December 16, 2014
- Video: Drone Captures Amazing Humpback Whale Feeding Event on Camera Posted Thu, December 18, 2014