My time at NMLC was indescribable; every week my family and friends ask me how my week at work went. Every week I launch into stories of the new animals, new procedures, and incredible stories that delighted and disgusted. When I applied to NMLC for my first co-op it all seemed simple. I was looking for a happy medium between my Marine Biology major and my desire to move into the animal care field. During my interview I never dreamed that I would be able to participate in a dolphin release, reverse restrain seals for IV’s, and perform subcutaneous fluids on the most critically endangered sea turtle.
When I began my co-op at NMLC I was overwhelmed. My counterpart, Joanna, and I drove to NMLC for our orientation, which lasted four hours. We couldn’t believe how much we had to learn. The first week was a whirlwind, learning and taking in information rapidly, trying to become a useful member of the team. I started in early July, when there were twelve harbor seal pups, who each required individual attention, medications, tubing, fish school, and of course, cleaning. I was lucky enough to overlap with summer interns, who showed me the way around the hospital.
Every day at NMLC is different, we have various crews of volunteers who generously donate their time, and rehabilitation is not a predictable field. As soon as I came comfortable with the harbor seal pups, we received our first weanling. Emmy Rosseal, a harbor seal weanling with a large shark bite, was my first experience with emergency medicine. I watched as our vets and animal care staff treated her wounds and gave her extra care daily. She was my favorite seal, because she overcame almost insurmountable battles and was released after only one and a half months in our care.
I was extremely lucky to be invited into rounds during my time at NMLC. The vets and animal care staff gather around a conference room table and discuss the patients. This was one of the many ways that NMLC helped me decide to apply to vet school. Learning proper jargon and meeting all of the vets was very encouraging; I saw people who were able to combine their love of veterinary medicine and marine mammals.
NMLC has taught me incredible things, not only medical terminology and procedures, but also how to communicate with the public. I was able to post to our Facebook and Twitter, as well as give tours of our hospital and discovery center to the public. I have learned how to tailor my tours to different groups of people and keep everyone interested and engaged.
I was able to work with seals and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, animals that I had only ever hoped of seeing in the wild prior to NMLC. However, I can say confidently that my favorite portion of this co-op was meeting people. I have created lifelong friendships and met wonderful, dedicated, and passionate people. I look forward to seeing where they travel in life after NMLC and hope that one day our paths will cross again.