Back in September, I attended the Dawn Day in the Wildlife event in Sausalito, California. You guys know I love animals, right? Going to the Marine Mammal Center as an ambassador for Dawn Saves Wildlife was a dream come true for me! We spent the day at the Marine Mammal Center, shadowed volunteers, got our hands dirty and my favorite part? We were able to watch three sea lions released back into the wild! You can find out more about the Marine Mammal Center and their mission here, but today I want to share with you just what it's like to spend a day working at the Marine Mammal Center. A big, big thank you to Dawn for inviting me to Sausalito on an all-expenses paid experience!
When I say that we got our hands dirty, I seriously mean that we got our hands dirty. When we went outside and saw a pile of galosh, it dawned on me (see what I did there?) that we would REALLY be immersed in the volunteer experience.
I won't lie and say that I wasn't a bit nervous - I have never worked with wild animals before and was apprehensive about what we would be doing. Fortunately, the good folks at the Marine Mammal Center kept the help pretty easy - totally doable for a beginner like me!
We helped out in the kitchen by sorting fish and checking for quality.
While we didn't actually work WITH the sea lions, we did get to see them in their pens and help clean up the cages the Marine Mammal Center would be using to transport them.
We learned all about what the Marine Mammal Center does on a daily basis, and about their educational programs as well.
We even got to watch while Marine Mammal Center volunteers round up sea lions for transport to the release site!
Oh, these sea lions, you wouldn't believe how adorable they were!
Above photos taken by Susan Goldman of Susan Goldman Photography. Subsequent photos are taken with my Lumia 1020.
I spent the majority of my day shadowing Sue, who works in the Harbor Seal Hospital. Sue and her husband both volunteer at the Marine Mammal Center, as well as help with animal rescue. They do everything from go out onto the rocky bluffs to rescue marine mammals, feed, bathe and provide medical care to harbor seals and clean their pens.
Sue walked us through cleaning the cages for transporting the sea lions that day - I am proud to say that I actually cleaned up elephant seal poop. See what I mean about getting my hands dirty? Well, I was wearing gloves, but still. It counts.
While Sue showed me around the Harbor Seal Hospital, she told me about a recent discovery; after spending an entire day scrubbing the algae in one of the seal pens, she had hardly made any headway. She decided to try to clean it with Dawn...and you guessed it - it totally cleaned it! In this photo, she is showing me a pen that she hadn't cleaned yet. Do you see all of that algae? Pretty gross, right? Sue has to make sure that the pens are nice and clean for the seals, so realizing that Dawn cuts through the algae just like it does grease and grime was a life-changing discovery!
Spending the day with Sue was so inspiring and I feel so fortunate to have learned so much from her, her enthusiasm is infectious! Check out this video and see it for yourself.