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Last April I posted a diary warning that "Obama's budget would kill dolphins and other stranded marine mammals".

The danger was in the fact that the proposed budget would have totally eliminated what are called Prescott grants, which are the lifeline providing a miniscule fund ($4 million) that gives vital financial help to all the volunteer rescue groups across the country.

This year has been a particularly hard year because of several "unusual mortality events" declared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The first such event this year was a flood of starving, stranded sea lion pups on the California coast startiing in January. Well over  a thousand had to be rescued, putting extreme pressure on the various volunteer groups' resources. More recent such mortality events have included hundreds of sick and dying dolphins on the east coast, and also manatees.

Now on top of this the slashed budget has come in, and the news is mostly bad. See below the stranded squiggle.

The bad news is the budget for the Prescott was severely cut, but the small bit of good news is that NOAA managed to scrape up $1 million to keep it going.As reported on

This year, after being forced by Congress to slash its $5.1 billion budget by about 7 percent, NOAA cut funding for the John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program that provided the money. The agency initially proposed eliminating funding for the Prescott program entirely. The good news is that it managed to find $1 million, now distributed among 12 stranding network partners. (About 40 rescue centers typically receive grants.)


Most immediately, some rescue centers will have to scramble to cover basic costs – like food and medicine for sick animals, gas money, and salaries – with fundraising efforts eating up time normally spent helping animals or collecting data and trying to figure out what’s caused an animal to strand. Data collected by these rescue centers and associated research institutions are integral for studies of marine mammals and their environment, especially with rare animals or in troubled ecosystems.

But even that paltry $1 million might be erased from the next budge for 2014. You can be sure there will be needless deaths of marine mammals as a result. You can of course "write to congress," though that looks like a pretty dim prospect. You might do better to donate as much as you can to your local marine mammal rescue groups.
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