I’ve loved sharing the things I learned on my trip to The Marine Mammal Center for Dawn’s Day in the Wildlife as a spokesperson for Dawn. I’m fascinated by all the work and detail that goes into rehabilitating the animals to re-enter the wild.
But it’s the people who inspire me.
They’re normal people who’ve chosen to make a HUGE commitment of time and energy.
The Marine Mammal Center has more than 1100 volunteers. There are very few paid staff members, and they truly could not do what they do without the commitment of the volunteers. Volunteers work 12 hour shifts on the same day each week, so they become like family with the other members of their shift.
We heard stories of nights during the busiest seasons when volunteers spend the entire overnight shift sorting and “blending” fish so all the animals could be fed. The animals eat three times a day, and if the animals won’t take the herring whole, they are tube fed a Herring Shake!
That was my volunteer’s favorite part!
Korie was so great at explaining her job, and her love for what she does at TMMC was evident in everything she said and did. She loves working with the animals, but she also loves how much she gets to learn while there. She is working toward her degree in veterinary medicine, and looks for every opportunity to learn from the veterinarians who help out at the center.
Here’s my video interview with Korie:
A few things TMMC volunteers do:
- Observe animals in the wild who have been reported to be in distress to determine their needs and their accessibility. Sometimes volunteers have to watch for days to find the safest way to capture the animal so it can be brought to the center for medical care.
- Feed animals who are being treated at the center. During busy times of the year, more than 1,000 pounds of frozen herring must be sorted and fed to the animals each day.
- Train animals to eat in the wild. Whole fish are attached to a string and pulled through the water so animals can learn to aggressively chase food.
- Clean cages and equipment. Each enclosure and swimming area is cleaned daily, and equipment such as trucks and carrying crates are cleaned as well. Great care is taken to prevent the spread of germs, as the animals are already “hospitalized” there for medical issues that naturally make them more susceptible to illness.
- Work in the education center conducting tours and community activities.
- Participate in releases. Each time an animal is released back into the wild, a team of volunteers travels to the release location (we traveled more than 2 hours to a remote place where the animals’ chances of survival was better). During the busy seasons, there are multiple releases each day!
Get this: I was amazed to learn that many paid staff members volunteer at the center on their days off! That’s such a perfect demonstration of the passion that is evident in everything that happens at TMMC.
While this trip focused on marine mammals on the coast of California, there are wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centers all over the country that depend on volunteers to do the work they do. See more about my day at TMMC here and learn about International Bird Rescue here.
Do you volunteer with any wildlife centers where you live? I’d love to hear about what you do!
Thanks so much to Dawn for this fun and educational trip, and for sponsoring these posts about it. I was already a huge fan of Dawn for its perfect combo of affordability, effectiveness and gentleness (wildlife experts use it on baby DUCKS, remember?), but this experience has helped me love Dawn even more.--Nony