The Pacific Marine Mammal Center has reported triple the number of rescued dolphins, sea lions and seals at this time of year compared to last year. Marine staff is at a loss to say why there’s been such a big jump. As of last week, the Center was attending to 44 mammals. Neighbors have complained about an increase in barking. Police investigated and found the source of the noise was caused by high winds blowing the unsecure door of the new Village Entrance.
Sea guests were quick to enter a class action lawsuit against canyon neighbors who wrongfully blamed them for the noise. The mammals are asking for $55 million dollars payable in beach balls or fish smoothies. It will be several years before the case will come to court. A restraining order to ban check out has been granted until the suit can be settled.
Marine staff is concerned about accommodating the suing guests and any new arrivals in the years to come. “There is just so much room,” explains a Pacific Marine Mammal spokesperson. He lamented, “We provide free breakfast, lunch and dinner. These guests demand high quality fish. I’ll never forget when we tried cutting costs by serving fish sticks one season. Big mistake. The Yelp reviews were awful. In fact, they were so bad, we had no rescues for two years running. Almost put us out of business.”
I wondered aloud about this seasonal anomaly. “Are you telling me the mammals may be staging these rescues to get free meals?” The Center spokesman sighed. “I can’t say for certain. It could be the free Wi-Fi, as well. And this is not your average teenager’s Wi-Fi coverage, either. Our sea guests require sophisticated sonar Wi-Fi to stay in touch with relatives swimming all over the Pacific.” I shook my head. “Wow, that’s a large coverage area.” The spokesman shrugged. “Yes. And trying to get signals into and out of dumped garbage the size of Texas is not cheap. It’s just another cost we have to absorb to keep the Yelp reviews positive.”
It’s a Catch 22. Some sea guests are truly in need of rescuing, while a growing number of others are freeloaders after a free stay and meal. Which to catch? And which to release? It’s a difficult situation. The Pacific Marine Mammal Center is reviewing their options. They can increase fundraising activities to accommodate everyone. Or they can require a 1 percent sales tax increase on area hotels to share the burden.
The most promising suggestion to secure fair play amongst guests may be a microchip offer for a free Center stay on the tenth visit. Nobody on land or sea can refuse a freebie like that.
Crantz tells the Indy that he noticed this problem years ago, while attending a Montage mammal release. Most of the mammals refused to go back into the ocean to look for their next meal. It reminded him of his kids, now 35, 39 and 41 and living at home slurping fish smoothies.