Salt and rust destroy only truck used to rescue sea animals in NJ
With people hopefully still in the giving season, the Marine Mammal Stranding Center of Brigantine — which has rescued more than 5,000 sea animals since 1978 — could sure use your help.
There is only one truck that handles all the sea animal rescues in New Jersey and after 20 years, the 1998, four-wheel drive Ford F-550 is falling apart thanks to salt, sand and rust.
MMSC Founding Director Bob Schoelkopf says just a few days ago, the rear brake line on the truck broke.
The specially equipped truck with a built-in bed is vital to the program because it's used on beaches to lift and transport animals for rehabilitation. Seals are transported as far as Maine using this specialized truck.
Schoelkopf says the seals can fit in the center's smaller pickups but this truck, with a 12-foot length interior and a special lift gate, can handle 1,000-pound animals such as dolphins and whales.
"It does take up to six to eight months to have this built, but of course they want money up front so we can't get it built until we start seeing the funds come in," says Schoelkopf.
The new truck will cost anywhere between $110,000 and $115,000. So far, $45,000 has been raised through donations.
He says people can donate through Paypal, the MMSC's Facebook page or a check can be directly sent to the MMSC at P.O. Box 773, Brigantine, NJ 08203.
So what is the MMSC doing in the meantime without a truck? "Keeping our fingers crossed," says Schoelkopf. Right now, the center is in between seasons but seal season is starting up soon. Again, the seals can fit in the smaller pickup trucks. But if anything larger like a dolphin or a whale needs rescuing, there is no capacity at this point.
This year alone, MMSC has rescued 169 sea animals. But Schoelkopf says, "to date, since we've started doing the rescue work in the state, we're up to 5,003 animals."
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