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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute, Gaviota, California

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Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute, Gaviota, California
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akvance



Registered: August 2017
City/Town/Province: Goleta
Posts: 1
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It is heartbreaking to see rescued animals arrive emaciated, battered and suffering as a result of human cruelty or reckless behavior. My job at the Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute is to treat these marine mammals that come to us, teach them how to survive on their own, all while not becoming attached to them. As long as I can remember, I have envisioned myself working with animals and I have never deviated from this objective. Animals have always played a significant role in my life; they have provided me with comfort and support in times of joy and sadness and I want to return the favor.


My passion for animals is distinctive because I recognize the difference between just being an advocate and being truly involved in their protection and rehabilitation. Even as I sit here, I am wearing a rescue t-shirt that still smells like the fish of the day. Despite my strenuous school, work, and sport schedule, I always prioritize my volunteer work with animals. Volunteering at the Channel Island Marine and Wildlife Institute has exposed me to both the positive and negative aspects of veterinary medicine, and the positive and negative aspects of human behavior. I have learned that working with rescues can be fulfilling, but also tragic. It is agonizing to see the animals arrive with gunshot wounds, domoic acid poisoning, entanglements, or malnutrition. It is even more challenging to come to the realization that they do not all survive despite my best efforts to help them.


While working with marine animals has been both rewarding and challenging, never has it been glamorous. This work involves cleaning feces and fish vomit; applying medication to wounds; and holding sea lions down while fixing broken flippers. When a sea lion does not survive, I am often tasked with assisting the veterinarian in a necropsy to try to determine the cause of its death. It may have swallowed a plastic grocery bag, or its internal organs may have stopped functioning, cause unknown. Notwithstanding the disappointments, the knowledge that my efforts may ultimately contribute to a sea lion's transformation and well-being continues to motivate me. I find great satisfaction watching a marine mammal released back into its natural habitat. The fact that not every marine mammal arriving at the rescue center will make it out does not deter me. I am passionate but realistic, for I recognize that by the time a marine mammal is rescued, it is often beyond all help. Since the damage done to these animals is often a result of human cruelty or carelessness, I believe it is my responsibility to dedicate myself to helping them. I cannot change the past for the animal, but I can change their future.
Although the rehabilitation process requires separation between humans and wild animals, I do find myself connecting to some, with sea lions - each with such unique personalities being my favorite. They are the dogs of the sea, each one with so much character, making it hard not to fall in love with them. But, because the percentage of successful rehabilitations is much lower than I would prefer, I have developed a strong personal defense system. I need to be able to separate my emotions from the lives of the animals at hand. I have learned the importance of selflessly releasing one rescue with the knowledge that there will be space for another. After working with an animal for months, and being sympathetic to all that animal has endured, it feels gratifying to let it go. The goal is to send an animal back to its habitat, more equipped to survive than when it was rescued, and seeing an animal prevail makes me proud. This rescue work is a reflection of what I have been able to accomplish, but it is also a reflection of who I am: driven, dedicated, passionate, and virtuous.
Date: August 24, 2017 Views: 208 File size: 26.6kb, 597.7kb : 1932 x 2576
Hours Volunteered: 100
Volunteers: 1
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17
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