Upon visiting my dad’s cousin in the Long Beach area (I’ve always called her Aunt Dorothy growing up, but she’s technically not my aunt), she recommended I check out the Marine Mammal Care Center (MMCC) because her sons liked going there growing up. It also happens to be next to the Korean Friendship Bell, so I figured knock out two in one visit.
When arriving at the Friendship Bell, there is a small building across the parking lot, which I later discovered was a hostel. As you walk toward the bell, there is a sign at the entrance which explains the bell was a gift from Korea to the United States as an extension of, you guessed it, friendship. Behind the sign, there were two totem pole looking figures that make for a fun photo opportunity.
While walking up to the bell, you realize the intricate detail of the hand painted ceiling and columns. It is pretty incredible and enormous. I can only imagine how much it means to Korean culture. Even the details of what is inscribed on the actual bell itself and the tiles underneath it.
Then you take in the view behind the bell, which is the Pacific ocean. You can also see Catalina Island in the distance. There is a small hill below the front of the bell, which you can climb down, and sometimes people take pictures there.
After that, I went to the MMCC. However, to get there, it was quite the maze of roads. My GPS took me on roads that seemed like they were not meant for civilians, but rather work/government vehicles. There was a Marine center up on the hill, but not the one for animal rescue. After going through odd winding roads, I finally found it among a bunch of other random buildings.
After parking, I walked through the gift shop and came upon the back area where the animals are contained. It honestly looked a little small for the amount of seals that were present, but I’m not an expert marine animal care, so maybe it was adequate room. There were a few small caged in areas, that each had their own little pool for the seals, and two larger pools. You can observe them and learn about them from various signs posted on the fences. You can also speak to the caretakers/volunteers, who were cleaning the cages and pools the entire time I was there.
It seemed like everyone was pretty busy, so I only really spoke to one person for a few minutes. He was very helpful in teaching me about the seals ability to swim and what the rescue was doing to help them. I assume besides the rehabilitation of the sea life there, the center is mostly for educating classrooms of children about seals and how to help them if you see one that is injured.
I wish there was more I could tell you about it, but it was a very simple little afternoon trip. Maybe something you could do if you knew of a restaurant in San Pedro that you wanted to try, and then go to both places after or before. Do I see myself taking guests to these places when they visit LA, not really. But it’s nice to know the Bell has a beautiful location and that the animals are being treated and released in great condition.