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Morro Bay marine animal rescue center in urgent need of new volunteers

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Posted at 10:31 PM, Nov 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-23 14:39:59-05

A marine animal rescue center in Morro Bay says it is in urgent need of new volunteers.

The Marine Mammal Center’s Morro Bay field office is looking to train 25 to 30 new volunteers before elephant seal pups arrive on the Central Coast in early 2023.

An injured sea otter nursed back to health was recently released back into the wild at Avila Beach.

The otter, affectionately named Spinny made a triumphant return to the ocean on November 10th.

“Our mission is really global ocean conservation and I think that’s a mission that speaks to a lot of people,” said San Luis Obispo Operations Coordinator Shayla Zink.

The Sausalito-based Marine Mammal center is the largest ocean animal hospital in the world, and their Morro Bay field office plays an important role in helping injured marine life. “We are kind of a triage center, so we bring them here and give them immediate help under the guidance of the vet staff that’s up at Sausalito,” said volunteer Holly Weir.

The latest rescue happened Tuesday at Avila Beach when a sea lion was found with a deep gash in one of its flippers.

Volunteers say it’s easy to become attached to the animals they rescue.

“They have personalities. I remember a lot of them,” said Weir. “I remember the first elephant seal I restrained so I could tube feed him---his name was Donkey.”

The Marine Mammal Center is looking to train dozens of new volunteers before elephant seal pupping season begins at San Simeon.

“They spend about four weeks with their mom and then mom leaves and they have to figure out how to be seals all by themselves,” said Zink.

The center sees a sharp uptick in rescues from late December through February as elephant seal pups are thrown out into the real world.

“Some of them don’t do so well and that’s when we step in,” explains Zink.

The center is now looking for volunteers to fill a wide variety of roles.

“If part of it seems intimidating, there are other roles,” said Weir. “Some people don’t like to do rescues although most of us love to do rescues. People can just do animal care; we need transport drivers.

The Marine Mammal Center is recruiting volunteers right now and orientation day is on January 14th.

Volunteers typically work one shift per week ranging from six hours during the day to three hours at night.

The center is accepting applications through December 1st.