Recently, I spent a day in the life of a volunteer at The Marine Mammal Center in San Francisco, California. Along with 7 other bloggers, we learned what it was like to help save wildlife.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I guess in my mind, I pictured cleaning baby ducks all day. That’s probably because I have the blue Dawn dish soap on my counter and it has a picture of a little duck on it.
ABOUT THE MARINE MAMMAL CENTER
The Marine Mammal Center actually doesn’t have ducks (hence the name “marine mammals”, but the International Bird Rescue does help birds of all shapes and sizes. We went on a tour of The Marine Mammal Center and learned about the partnership with Dawn and what all goes into running a facility that cares for animals.
A nonprofit rehabilitative hospital for ill, abandoned and injured seals and sea lions located in the Marin Headlands above the lagoon.
– Admission is FREE to the Marine Mammal Center
– Visiting Hours Daily: 10am – 5 pm
We started out the day learning about the partnership with Dawn and the Marine Mammal Center.
For 40 years, Dawn has been helping to save wildlife. But the partnership actually happened rather different than imagined. In the 1970s during the big oil spill, volunteers were using any and everything to help save wildlife. They were using things like mascara remover and turpine it was harsh on the animals and not very many of them survived.
The infographic below covers the history of the wildlife program. I found it fascinating that Dawn is the product of choice because quite literally it’s tough on grease and gentle. It was actually the Marine Mammal Center that reached out to Dawn because they were struggling to find enough dish soap to clean the animals. They were having to go from store to store and buy it out. When Dawn heard of this need, they stepped in to help. In 2010 they launched the Dawn Saves Wildlife Program.
One of my biggest takeaways, next to how amazing their volunteers are (which I’ll touch on in a separate post) is that we are all stewards of nature and even as individuals we can make a difference.
Mitch from the Marine Mammal center gave us a tour. I love that it really is the kind of place where children can go and have an experience.
We learned the difference between a Seal, Sea Lion and Elephant Seal. Do you know the differences? I sure didn’t.
Literally, behind the scenes. Learning how it all comes together.
Crate where they use to get the sea lions and seals.
Then Mitch walked us through what happens when they get a call. They make sure the animal is really stranded. They come prepared with crates and their volunteers use these panels to protect the animals and themselves.
At the Marine Mammal center there are 1100 volunteers and 45 paid staff. They work 13-14 hours a day. There is a lot that goes into caring for the animals.
These pictures are taken outside The Marine Mammal Center.
The animal hospital is state of the art and uses solar panels that help provide power to the center, and also provide a shaded area for the mammals.
Panorama shot of the center.
Mitch showing us how to approach wildlife.
Learning how to care for animals.
Close up for the hospital.
Here are SEVEN STEPS TO HELP A STRANDED MARINE MAMMAL:
1. Do not touch, pick up or feed the animal. Do not return the animal to water.
2. Observe the animal from the distance of at least 50 feet. Keep people and dogs away.
3. Note physical characteristics such as size, presence of external ears and fur color.
4. Note the animal’s condition. Is it weak or skinny? Does it have any open wounds?
5. Look for any obvious identification tags or markings.
6. Determine the animals’s exact location for accurate reporting.
7. Call the Marine Mammal Center with as much information as you have.