BRIGANTINE — The Marine Mammal Stranding Center will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2018, and will likely soon surpass 5,000 aquatic animals it has rescued, rehabilitated and returned to the wild since its 1978 founding by Bob Schoelkopf and his wife, Sheila Dean.

Winter is the time of year the stranding center is busiest with seal strandings due to a variety of causes, most of which stem from a southern migration of seals pursuing schools of fish for food and sustaining injury or illnesses along the way.