For Immediate Release: 2 July 2007

Friends of Animals, an international animal-rights organization, announced today it has joined with Marine Animal Rescue, a Los Angeles County nonprofit that rescues and rehabilitates injured marine animals and returns them, whenever possible, to freedom. Marine Animal Rescue, formerly known as the Whale Rescue Team, has been assisting marine animals in Southern California for more than two decades.

During that time, Marine Animal Rescue (, headed by Peter Wallerstein, has rescued thousands of marine animals. In 2007 so far, Wallerstein and his highly trained and skilled volunteers have rescued nearly 180 marine mammals, including sea lions, elephant seals, harbor seals, dolphins, and a whale, and more than 125 sea birds. The group’s authorized territory comprises a diverse coastline, including Marina del Rey, the world’s largest marina; the beaches of Venice and Santa Monica; and the busy port of San Pedro.

“The work of Peter and his staff of volunteers is well known and highly respected in the L.A. area,” said Priscilla Feral, Friends of Animals president. “It’s dangerous work as well. A 600-pound sea lion can be remarkably swift and agile. Marine Animal Rescue fills an urgent need in animal care in the region.”

Most of the animals have been hurt or endangered through the fish trade on the densely populated Los Angeles coastline: Seals are found entangled in gill netting, or after swallowing hooks. Increasingly, sea lions suffer violent seizures from domoic acid poisoning, due to toxic algae blooms thought to be exacerbated by global warming.

Based in Playa del Rey, Marine Animal Rescue works with the L.A. County Lifeguards, police and fire departments, and Animal Services departments throughout Los Angeles County. Marine Animal Rescue has the only live, 24-hour hotline for marine animal rescues (1-800-39-WHALE). As an advocacy organization, Marine Animal Rescue vigorously opposes the capture and confinement of healthy marine mammals.

“This merger will give us the financial resources to ensure that our work can continue,” Wallerstein said. “L.A. County now has some of the best Marine Animal Rescue and rehabilitation in the nation, and it’s important that we can keep doing this.”