Caring for Stranded Marine Animals
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A Day Working on the Animal Care Team

Lisa restraining Rue.July 6, 2015

This is a blog about one of my days working on the Animal Care team. You would assume every day would be the same – prep feeds, tubing and restraining the animals, cleaning the facilities, etc. However I’ve been surprised with how each day brings something new. Today I was assigned the afternoon shift, yet my day withheld a lot more.

My day started with heading to IFAW for a 10am necropsy. I had been to two necropsies prior, and my interest for them definitely sparked in the first one. I was amazed how it seemed like a giant puzzle, with the cutters investigating, analyzing, and observing each organ and the animal’s condition as a whole. It was a bit overwhelming at first but once I became enthralled in the science of the necropsy, I wasn’t uncomfortable anymore. In the stomach and intestines of the animal, we found something still moving – parasites. It was suggested that the animal might have obtained some parasites from a potential dog attack, since there were several bite marks in its neck. To be able to compile our observations into a potential cause of death was incredible to me. At this point I had been the scribe once, and the photographer twice, yet I am looking forwards to other roles, such as the sampler. Afterwards, it was always nice to return to NMLC to help with live animals.

Making fish gruel!Back at NMLC I completed some daily tasks in the hospital – cleaned the new pup room and made some more fish gruel. Making fish gruel can get smelly, it leaves scales everywhere, and it can be time consuming, yet I don’t mind making it. For a while the fish gruel was way too thick and was beyond difficult tubing. When I make it, I really cut up the fish to make it as smooth as possible. I have developed a systematic and what I believe efficient way of making it. Cleaning the new pup room isn’t exactly glamorous either, since I had to scrub the feces on the bottom of the tub. However while cleaning the room I realize how quickly this room was built. I was basically in awe. The room was completely built in my first month at this internship. This expansion of a new pup room also made me happy to know that NMLC has been able to expand, allowing more room for pups and more future success for rehabilitation.

Cilantro's releaseThe day did not end at the hospital. At around 630pm we finished up the pup feeds and headed over to Scusset Beach for Cilantro’s release. Cilantro had been at NMLC since I arrived, so his departure back to the water was very exciting. I was pleasantly surprised at how many people arrived. There were people of all ages waiting to see Cilantro go home. I was asked to stand near the water to make sure people didn’t get to close – and what a spot that was! Cilantro ended up coming right near me before he went into the water, so I got a great chance to see him head home. I stayed to watch him for a while. Initially I watched him out of concern – he kept coming pretty close back to the beach and I was worried not only for him but for the people that were progressing in the water to see him. But with time, Cilantro was ready to head back to sea. It was really beautiful to see him head home.

I picked to write about this day because it was not only an eventful day filled with many responsibilities, but also because it showed the range of experiences this internship entails. I’m realizing how much this internship has to offer, even in just one day.

Posted by Lisa D.
Lisa is a Summer, 2015 Intern at the National Marine Life Center. She is going into her senior year at Emory University, where she is a Biology major.

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