Photo Credit – New England Aquarium
The New England Aquarium is searching for volunteers for its marine animal response team on the North Shore and in N.H. Volunteers monitor mostly live seals resting in prominent public locations but also some harbor porpoises that are swimming near shore. Volunteers also respond to dead wash-ups of sea turtles, whales, dolphins and seals.
Given the distance from Boston, the Aquarium relies on this network of trained local volunteers to be first responders. Volunteers act as the “eyes and ears” on the beach so that the Aquarium’s rescue biologists and veterinarians can make decisions on the best course of action. A typical response includes traveling to the stranding site and identifying the species and location of any stranded animals. Volunteers then conduct health assessments of live animals to determine if they are injured, sick or in good health. With dead animals, they take measurements and determine the animal’s gender. Volunteers then take and transmit photos and information about stranded animals to the Aquarium as soon as possible. Volunteers also establish and maintain perimeters around stranding sites and answer questions from the public.
Field stranding response volunteers need to be year round residents, have access to a car and have a flexible schedule so as to respond on an on call basis. Volunteers must be 18 years of age and fit enough to walk on uneven ground and lift moderate weight. Working with stranded or dead animals can be stressful. Volunteers need to be able to remain calm under pressure and report objectively. At strandings, there are often a wide range of audiences including curious and emotional bystanders, media representatives, law enforcement officers and local officials. Effective communications skills are essential. Previous animal handling experience is helpful and given preference.
Due to the inherent risk in working with wild animals, which can carry diseases and bacteria, this position is not recommended for applicants who are immuno-compromised or pregnant.
The deadline for applications is May 13. To apply on-line, please visit the aquarium’s website at: http://www.neaq.org/get_involved/volunteering_and_internships/volunteering/volunteer_application.php
For those without web access, please call the Aquarium’s volunteer office at 617-973-5235
After completing applications, Aquarium staff will interview prospective volunteers. New volunteers will need to be available for a full day of training on Sunday, June 3 in Gloucester.