Specialized Facilities

Curt teaching OWS course

Specialized Facilities

In collaboration with OSPR and the OWCN Member Organizations we have built a network of purpose-built oiled wildlife rehabilitation facilities. The facilities are strategically placed along the length of the state to facilitate a rapid response to affected wildlife. These include large facilities in the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles Harbor areas, as well as smaller capacity facilities in Arcata, Morro Bay, Santa Cruz, Huntington Beach, San Diego. In Addition, a number of Member Organizations have their own facilities that can be leveraged for field stabilization or become a staging area for equipment and/or personnel.

Recognizing that no single oiled wildlife care center can effectively meet the needs of an early stage of a catastrophic oil spill, the OWCN has developed numerous regional care facilities with substantial overflow capacity to other centers.  All of the facilities within the OWCN are maintained in a constant state of preparedness for spill response, with wildlife caregivers available at all times to provide needed manpower during spill events. 

There are currently twelve facilities throughout California that were either designed and built specifically for oiled wildlife care, or are OWCN participant facilities that have been modified in order to facilitate spill response. Each facility within the OWCN is multi-use in nature, thereby allowing them to function for the managing partner organization during non-spill periods.  This arrangement benefits both the OWCN and the participant organization, allowing for shared, cost-effective maintenance and the ready availability of trained volunteers and staff on-site, thereby reducing startup time during spills.  For OWCN/OSPR managed facilities, on-going operations and maintenance costs are addressed through a budgetary line item in each of the respective budgets.  Any facility-use fees assessed during spill response go directly to the OSPR or the OWCN for equipment replacement and facility maintenance for spill response operations only.  Any maintenance or equipment replacement required not resulting from spill response, is the responsibility of the managing participant.  All other facilities are participant owned and managed.  All facility-use fees assessed during spill response go directly to the participating organization. 

OWCN/OSPR-Managed Facilities

Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center (Santa Cruz)
This OSPR-built and managed facility, completed in November 1997, is the primary care facility for sea otters affected by oil within California and the first center to be completed. Its 18,000 square feet was built to handle up to 125 otters and 100 marine birds during a spill response, and includes specialized areas for washing, drying, veterinary treatment, rehabilitation, laboratory space, necropsy, vehicle/boat storage and administrative/logistical needs. Outside sea water pools and pens developed to house individual otters are also located on-site. During non-spill periods, research is conducted by OSPR personnel and UC Santa Cruz and UCD collaborators on marine wildlife and nearshore ecosystems.

San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center (Fairfield)
This 12,000 square-foot facility, opened in February 2001, is one of the two primary oiled bird facilities built by the OWCN in California.  This facility, designed to accommodate 1,000 birds indoors during a large oil spill in the Bay area, includes specialized areas for bird intake, holding, washing, drying, isolation and recovery, as well as for food preparation, radiography/surgery and necropsy.  Upon completion of the outdoor improvements, birds will recover in one of three large aviaries or one of fifteen pools.  During non-spill time, the facility is used by IBRRC and UCD as an international training center for oil spill response and for non-oil related marine bird rehabilitation.  In addition, the OWCN and IBRRC will be developing cooperative educational opportunities at this Center for grade school children, rehabilitation specialists, and veterinary students, interns and externs (the latter managed through UCD).

Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center (San Pedro)
This Center, opened in March 2001, was designed to care for up to 1,000 birds in the first twenty four hours of a spill.  The 12,000 square-foot facility has specialized areas for bird intake, holding, washing, drying, isolation and recovery, as well as for food preparation, medical care and necropsy. Birds will recover in two large pelican aviaries, five smaller wading bird aviaries or one of eight pools, four of which can contain warm water for quicker healing.  The facility, also operated by the IBRRC, will be used to train veterinarians, staff and volunteers for oil-spill rehabilitation.  As in the San Francisco Bay Area facility, International Bird Rescue Research will employ the facility to care for birds with non-oil-related injuries during non-spill periods. This facility was built with fully-equipped classrooms in conjunction with Los Angeles Unified School District, to educate grade-school children about wildlife health and marine conservation issues.

OWCN Participant-Managed Facilities

North Coast Marine Mammal Center (Crescent City)
Completed in September 1996, the North Coast Marine Mammal Center is able to house fifteen oiled pinnipeds in the event of an oil spill in Northern California.  Improvements made to the existing facility to allow for oil spill use include permanent pens, an emergency pen area, and appropriate lighting upgrades for round-the-clock care.

Marine Wildlife Care Center (Arcata)
Located on the campus of Humboldt State University (HSU), this 4,500 square foot facility completed in January 1997 is designed to handle 400 birds in the early stages of a spill, and is equipped with washing, rinsing, and drying rooms, veterinary treatment rooms, space for oiled bird holding, and areas for logistical support.  During non-spill times, this facility plays a significant role in the education of students in the Department of Wildlife at HSU.

The Marine Mammal Center (Sausalito)
The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC) acts as the primary response facility for oiled pinnipeds for the OWCN, and is also able to house up to ten sea otters during a large spill.  A triage center, washing stations, a new pen flat containing seven pens and pools, and a 23,000 gallon closed-loop filtration system were incorporated into the existing Center in December 1995 to improve the preparedness for oil spill response.  During non-spill periods, these improvements are used by TMMC for ongoing pinniped rehabilitation and educational outreach.

University of California at Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz)
This oiled bird facility, located immediately adjacent to the OSPR-managed Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center (MWVCRC), has been developed to allow for holding of birds during spill events, with primary care being administered either at the MWVCRC or at the San Francisco Bay Area facility.  The site contains two modular buildings, for use as office and laboratory space, and a 9,750 square-foot pad that has been graded, plumbed and powered for temporary pool use.

Pacific Wildlife Care (Morro Bay)
This 2,160 square-foot facility, currently being completed and co-located at The Marine Mammal Center’s southern intake center, will be able to handle 150 birds in the event of an oil spill on the central coast.  This facility will include a modular building incorporating animal intake, holding, cleaning, food preparation and isolation areas.  This site will also contain two permanent pools and the space to site at least another two temporary pools during spill events.  During non-spill time, the facility will be used for ongoing wildlife rehabilitation by Pacific Wildlife Care.

Marine Mammal Care Center Los Angeles (San Pedro)
Located immediately adjacent to the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center, this spill facility has the capacity to care for up to twenty pinnipeds affected by spill events.  The OWCN-supported improvements to the existing facility, completed in November 1995, include the construction of a small intake/wash building containing six wash stations and the completion of a 13,000 gallon tank for ongoing rehabilitative care.  During non-spill periods, these facilities are incorporated into ongoing rehabilitation of stranded and injured pinnipeds from the Los Angeles area and marine education programs through the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center (Huntington Beach)
This facility, completed in March 1997, was designed to care for up to 400 oiled birds in the event of a spill in Southern California.  Funds from the OWCN were used to construct a 2,625 square-foot building containing areas for bird intake, holding, washing, drying, and recovery, as well as a series of six large and four small pens with pools for bird recovery.  Additional facilities on site are available for education and office space.  During non-spill periods, the facility is used by the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy for wildlife rehabilitation and education.

​​​​​​​SeaWorld San Diego (San Diego)
​​​​​​​The SeaWorld Oiled Wildlife Care Center, completed in July 2000, is situated on an 8,000 square foot site and is capable of housing up to 200 seabirds and twenty marine mammals.  The interior of the 2,600 square foot facility includes examination and treatment rooms, animal washing rooms, and food preparation areas.  The facility also has two 380 square foot outdoor aviaries, each equipped with 500 gallon wading pools, a covered 1,750 square foot concrete slab with outdoor lighting designed for temporary pools or pens, and a 32,000 gallon salt water pool for pinnipeds, sea turtles, and sea otters.  When not activated for oil spill response, the center is used to care for ill or injured animals in SeaWorld’s rescue and rehabilitation program and for overflow animal quarantine for illegally imported animals confiscated at the US/Mexico border.