Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute

Saving marine mammals is good for the Earth and for the soul!

It all started with the dream of 5-year-old boy living in St. Louis, Missouri. He wanted to save animals and he loved the water! Sam was also a smart, curious and adventurous kid with an easy smile and gregarious laugh. As Sam grew up so did his passion for making a difference and love of life. He worked hard to create a career where his work was his play and his play was his work. Sam has been practicing marine mammal veterinary medicine for 31 years and he has built a successful international veterinary consulting practice specializing in marine mammal medicine and endoscopy/laparoscopy. He is also the founder of a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to positively impacting conservation through marine mammal rescue, rehabilitation, research and education to promote ocean and human health.

Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (CIMWI, pronounced “sim-wee”) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was founded on the guiding principal of making a difference in marine ecology. CIMWI is committed to rescuing and rehabilitating marine wildlife affected by natural and unnatural causes as well as engaging in related research and education. Marine wildlife is a key indicator of the health of the marine ecosystem and CIMWI is dedicated to the health of the oceans' wildlife, which can ultimately influence the world's sustainability.

CIMWI is the only organization authorized by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service to rescue and rehabilitate pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) and rescue and triage sea turtles, sea otters and cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises and whales) as well as collect data on dead stranded pinnipeds, sea turtles and sea otters in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. CIMWI’s jurisdiction encompasses 155 miles of coastline which include 106 beaches and four harbors.

CIMWI is an all-volunteer organization that is on the front lines making a difference by rescuing and rehabilitating distressed marine mammals, contributing to science and research, providing education and inspiring conservation and change. Dr. Sam Dover founded CIMWI with his wife Ruth, who went from business suits and high heels to foul weather bibs and rain boots! Ruth’s life went from a corporate business world to cofounding and directing a nonprofit organization that gives marine mammals a second chance at life. Ruth and Sam have mentored hundreds of volunteers since CIMWI’s inception on June 1, 2006. It is because of these people and all they give and do as individuals and as a team that makes CIMWI successful each and every day. They are making a difference today and for the future of our marine mammal population and positively impacting the health of our environment for future generations.

To learn more about Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (CIMW) and how you can get involved, visit

How To Help A Stranded Marine Mammal

If you encounter a marine mammal that is sick, injured, malnourished, entangled, deceased or oiled, please follow these steps:

1. Do Not Touch!

Do not touch, feed, harass, cover, pour water on, coax/drag/push into the water or out of the surf zone, allow dogs near or take selfies with the animal. These are wild animals and they may bite!

2. Observe Animal

Observe the animal from a minimum of 50 feet. Keep people and pets away from the stranded animal. Note the animal’s physical characteristics and condition.

3. Determine Location

Determine the exact location of the animal. Be as accurate as possible and note any landmarks so CIMWI’s rescue team can easily find the animal.

4. Call Hotline 805.567.1505

Call the CIMWI Rescue Hotline at 805.567.1505 for stranded marine mammals in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Provide your name, phone number, specific information about the animal and its location.

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