My name is Meghan and I began interning at the National Marine Life Center in early September of this year. Safe to say, I was extremely nervous on my first day. I had never interned anywhere before, but I expected a very serious work environment with a lot of training and liability forms. I have never been more wrong. I came in and was immediately welcomed with open arms by the staff and other volunteers. We started with a tour and I fell in love. I have always been a fanatic of animals, but I never thought I would get the opportunity to work with them, let alone around them, at seventeen years old. Once I met their three species of turtles, we went into the animal hospital. As soon as I saw the seals I could barely control my excitement. Unfortunately (but not for them), I learned that the three of them would soon be released into the wild. This is where I realized the mission of the NMLC: They take in wounded, stranded marine life and nurse them back to health so they can return to their rightful homes. Admirable doesn’t even begin to explain their passion for these animals. I couldn’t wait to be a part of such an organization.
Ten minutes later I was holding turtles, changing their water, feeding them and jumping right into all of the action. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel the slightest bit nervous or uncomfortable, as I usually do entering a new environment. I started with their “rehab turtles”: the Red Bellied Cooters. These too were soon to be set free, as all but one were up to the necessary health standards for release. I learned the process of cleaning the tank and applied it with the other water turtles: the Diamondback Terrapins. They, instead of lettuce, eat seafood. So I had the pleasure of cracking open, and scraping out the meat of, a clam; I soon learned the luxuries of caring for marine life. The land turtles, or Box Turtles, were fairly easy to care for because they don’t involve the mess of water. All we had to do was give them food, drinking water and a bath. Once I had my walk through and training session, my first day drew to a close. I only had to wait for the second day to open.