The Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute has, since 2004, cared for hundreds of sick, injured or stranded seals, sea lion and other marine mammals found along the Ventura County coastline.
Operating out of the old Vista Del Mar Union School on the Gaviota coast, about 25 miles northwest of Santa Barbara, the institute has been granted ownership of the 2.8 acre school site to further their service to mammals in need.
The gift is from heirs of William Welles Hollister who amassed about 150, 00 acres along the Santa Barbara County coast in the 1860s. Over the years, the land has been parceled off with the school district receiving its property in 1927 – the school later closed in 1986 and the land was returned back to the Hollisters.
According the Ventura County Star
…[the property] sat empty and neglected until 2004, when a member of the Marine & Wildlife Institute’s board approached the Hollisters about using it.
“They came out bold as bulls and said, ‘We’ll take this over,’ and I said, ‘Only if you’ll fix it up,’ ” said John James “J.J.” Hollister III, the great-grandson of William Welles Hollister. Marine & Wildlife Institute officials said he was the driving force behind the donation.
“Gaviota is a sacred place in Santa Barbara, and my grandfather (John James Hollister Sr., who gave the land to the school) always wanted this property to be used for the public good,” Hollister said.
The couple who runs the center – Sam Dover and wife Ruth – plan to improve and expand the facility. They are looking into a grant to establish the institute as the only dolphin rehab center for hundreds of miles.
Flipper would be spinning on his tail with joy.