PMMC receives state honor as nonprofit of the year for coastal O.C.

California Sea Lions relax near a rehabilitation tank at Pacific Marine Mammal Center. Photo by Mitch Ridder

Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) was named Wednesday by the State Legislature as the 2021 California Nonprofit of the Year for Assembly District 74.

The Laguna Canyon-based nonprofit is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Since its founding, the nonprofit has rescued more than 10,000 animals including seals, sea lions, dolphins, and sea turtles on the Orange County coastline.

“I am honored to recognize the work of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center,” Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) said in a press release. “They received dozens of nominations from people all around Orange County. Given the life-saving action the organization has been doing for decades, I hope that this honor represents a thank you for their work saving the marine life of Southern California.”

PMMC also actively performs marine research, studying the pathological conditions that are affecting marine mammals in Southern California. The center also brings in over 50,000 visitors annually, including free programming to over 7,000 children per year. They also provide virtual educational programs that share the importance of marine science.

“Our passionate volunteers and staff, and the community that unhesitatingly puts all of us on its shoulders, work tirelessly to ensure the sustainability of our precious marine mammals and the ocean waters that we are all dependent upon,” Peter Chang, CEO of Pacific Marine Mammal Center said in a press release. “To receive this gracious acknowledgment from Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris as her Nonprofit of the Year helps to inform us that we continue to be on the right track, which is even more special as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary this year. We can’t thank her enough.”

The nonprofit reports using 1,000 pounds of fish per day to feed recovering seals and sea lions. It’s currently looking to raise $50,000 to feed our patients. This would cover about half its annual cost of fish.

The Center was caring for eight California Sea Lions, 25 Northern Elephant Seals, and three Pacific Harbor Seals, according to a June 23 press release.

“Nonprofits are a community of stubborn optimists,” Jan Masaoka, CEO of the California Association of Nonprofits said in a press release. “Our belief that the world can be better – more equitable, more kind – is powerful. Honoring a California Nonprofit of the Year shows that elected officials recognize and celebrate the good work they see nonprofits doing in their districts.”

This is the sixth year of the California Nonprofit of the Year initiative.

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Daniel is currently managing editor for the Laguna Beach Independent. He first started reporting on Laguna Beach in 2018. Daniel moved to Orange County from his hometown of Santa Barbara in 2008 to attend Chapman University. He wrote for the college newspaper, The Panther, for nearly four years before obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and English with an emphasis in journalism. While attending Chapman, he started interning at the Orange County Register as a community blogger in Orange. In 2012, he was hired as a staff writer covering Orange and Villa Park. He went on to cover the Nixon Presidential Library & Museum as well as housing, development, education, water, and local politics in other Orange County cities. Since leaving the Register in 2015, he has written for Law360, the Foothills Sentry, the Newport Beach Independent, the Laguna Beach Independent, Los Angeles Times Community News,, and the California Business Journal. When Daniel isn't busy covering Laguna Beach, he serves as ​engagement editor for a nonprofit newsroom, The War Horse. He lives in Irvine with his wife and son.


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