The Marine Mammal Center

DATE: 2009
LOCATION: Sausalito, California, USA
OLD USE: Anti-aircraft missile launch site
NEW USE: Nonprofit marine mammal rescue center


This site in Sausalito, California, originally served as a Nike anti-aircraft missile launch facility. Fort Cronkhite was decommissioned in the early 1970s.[1]


The Marine Mammal Center is a nonprofit focused on the interdependence between humans and marine mammals. Established in 1975, the center rescues and humanely treats ill, injured, or orphaned marine mammals, to return healthy animals to the wild. Their scientific research helps to increase knowledge of marine mammals, their health and their environment and assure their long-term survival. The center also provides education and communication to increase appreciation of marine mammals, foster informed decision-making affecting them, and inspire action to protect the marine environment.[2]


The original conversion of the facility occurred soon after the site was decommissioned. When the center first opened in 1975, it was using modified freight containers and small outbuildings. Thirty years later, the center had outgrown its current facilities and needed a major upgrade.

It was decided to continue utilizing the site but to follow through with a complete overhaul to solidify the center’s presence. One of the two 3,000-square-foot underground missile silos has now been converted into a research library that holds frozen organic specimens and is located underneath the research lab. The other silo is now home to state-of-the-art equipment that cleans and reuses up to 200,000 gallons of fresh and salt water at a time. That’s nearly four times what the center previously was able to handle. This is very important for the center’s dense mammal population which needs clean water. The new pens for the animals are shaded by 7,000 square feet of photovoltaic panels which also act as shade elements. These panels provide 18% of the center’s energy needs.[3]

What once was the site of military “defense” is now a modern home to protect and aid the marine mammal population.

[1]National Park Service
[2]The Marine Mammal Center

Images courtesy of The Marine Mammal Center.