The cities of Los Angeles and Santa Monica have hired a Marina del Rey-based nonprofit group to rescue sea mammals in Santa Monica Bay.
The three-year, $1-a-year contract allows the "Whale Rescue Team" to work with the Los Angeles Police Department and county lifeguards to make sure marine animals are rescued in a timely manner and transported to wildlife care facilities, said the group's founder Peter Wallerstein.
"In all of Los Angeles County, there is no coordinated effort to rescue dolphins or whales," said Wallerstein, who funds his organization through donations, corporate sponsorships and proceeds from his organic clothing company.
The Whale Rescue Team has rescued whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals and sea birds in Santa Monica Bay since 1985 and was involved in the rescue of "J.J." a sick baby gray whale found in Marina del Rey in January 1997.
The group has 1,000 members in Southern California and runs a 24-hour emergency hotline (800-39-WHALE).