Our Laguna:

An elegant and artistic Masquerade for marine mammals

November 07, 2008|By Barbara Diamond

The Marine Mammal Center on Laguna Canyon Road has rescued and cared for 166 seals and sea lions so far this year.

It takes money, and a chunk of it was raised at the third annual Marine Mammal Masquerade on Sunday at Mozambique restaurant.

An estimated $67,000 raised at the masquerade will help provide medical care for marine mammals like Skippy, a Pacific Harbor Seal, rescued May 8, weighing 21 pounds and released back into the ocean Sept. 25, weighing 77 pounds — or Moonbeam, a Northern elephant seal that weighed 58 pounds when rescued March 19 and 261 pounds when released Sept. 29.


Mary Ferguson, vice chairwoman of the center’s board of directors, chaired the masquerade. Center Director of Development and Marketing Melissa Sciacca was the staff chairwoman of the event.

She welcomed guests along with volunteers JoAnn Smith, Lynn Friedman, Sarah Nelson and Deborah Cohen. Animal Care Supervisor and Development Coordinator Debbie MacCarter and Michele Hunt, who started as a volunteer at the center in 1989 and worked her way up to become the full-time director of operations and animal care, also volunteered their time at the masquerade.

The event began with a cocktail reception and included a silent auction, buffet, live auction, entertainment and an opportunity prize drawing.

Teen volunteers Lauren Henry and Briana Gibbs assisted with the silent auction. Henry became interested in the plight of marine mammals when she was 5 and read — yes, she was reading before she went to kindergarten — about the effects of El Niño.

Gibbs became involved at age 7, when she was taken on a school field trip to the center. She later attended the center’s Camp Pinniped.

“I will volunteer there when I get old enough,” Gibbs said.

Guests were invited to peruse the marine-mammal-themed donations to the silent auction while sipping wine and sampling Mozambique hors d’oeuvres: slices of petite pesto pizza, miniature beef kabobs and samosas.

Forty-one artists donated pieces to the silent auction, including Cherril Doty, who created a jeweled mask of from recycled items, found objects, paint and paper; Louis Longi, whose cast bronze mask was valued at $1,200; Molly Hutchings, inspired by traditional quilt patterns that she painted onto a butterfly-shaped mask; and Jan Sattler, whose cunning ceramic head of a harbor seal was among the first on which a bid was made.

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