San Luis Obispo Sea animal clinic, the first place to look for a dive instructor

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Posted by on March 30, 2005 at 19:33:03:

Sick, injured or orphaned seals and sea otters will have a SLO County treatment center within months

After five years of planning, the Marine Mammal Center is ready to start construction of an animal rescue center and field office in Morro Bay.

The facility will be used to rehabilitate sick, injured or orphaned seals and sea otters found in San Luis Obispo County. Volunteers with the center are currently caring for rescued animals in makeshift facilities in their homes.

The improved facilities at the new Morro Bay office will reduce the number of animals that have to be driven to the center's main facility in Sausalito for treatment.

"This is a big step for us," said Jim Oswald, the group's spokesman. "If it's a minor injury, we can treat them down there and release them."

The field office will be in the southeast corner of the Duke power plant property in Morro Bay. The company is leasing a 2-acre parcel to the nonprofit center for 20 years for $1.

Duke provides the center with a similar in-kind donation for a field office at its power plant in Moss Landing, said Duke spokesman Pat Mullen.

"We see it as a good partnership because they are a good addition to the community," Mullen said. "Heck, we even called on them when a sea lion was trapped in our intake. They came and rescued it."

Construction is scheduled to start the week of April 11. It will take several months to complete.

The facility will consist of a double-wide mobile home and six holding pens. The building will contain a food preparation area and a treatment room, but most of the space will be offices, said Tony Promessi, the center's director of life support and facilities.

Planning for the new facility was slow because it is located away from a road. Utilities, such as water and sewer, had to be added, Promessi said.

The Marine Mammal Center cares for seals and otters from San Luis Obispo to Mendocino counties, an area of 600 miles. Typically, they treat 500 animals a year from that area.

In 2004, the center treated 158 animals from San Luis Obispo County, which is about normal, Oswald said. Thirteen animals have been rescued so far this year.

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