Thursday, September 22, 2011

Washed Ashore in Marin County

If you haven't been to the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands in a while, it's time to go. The facility was enlarged and enhanced two years ago and it's totally a different place than before when it operated out of trailer-like containers, the sea lions and elephant seal pups enclosed in a few pens. Today, it's a state-of-the-art educational and solar-powered center with terrific displays and an observation deck for watching the marine mammals play in pools.
And, if you go before Oct. 15 you'll find a colorful art exhibit designed to emphasize the dangers pollution and toxic objects are posing to the oceans. Washed Ashore: Plastics, Sea Life and Art was created by Oregon artist Angela Hazeltine Pozzi who used plastics found on the beaches of Oregon. All shapes of bottles and other objects -- some from as far away as China (some have the Beijing Olympics logo) - were picked up and turned into 15 marine life sculptures.
The Marine Mammal Center is the largest such facility in the world. It covers 600 miles of coastline of northern California, and is staffed by a team of scientists who care for marine life in trouble, such as elephant seal pups separated from moms or sea lions who have been shot with rifles. Hundreds of volunteers lend a hand, including helping rescue marine mammals on remote beaches. The center is open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can explore on your own or take a docent-led tour for $7 per person.