I was so sad to hear about the Plains All American Pipeline oil spill this occurred this past Tuesday off the coast of Santa Barbara County in California. The spill ended up being five times worse than they originally thought. While clean up efforts continue, the long term effects on the marine life and environment are yet to be seen. We are still seeing effects on the marine life from the Deep Water Horizon oil spill that took place in the Gulf back in 2010.
Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has this to say:
“California’s coastline is one of the state’s most precious natural treasures. This oil spill has scarred the scenic Santa Barbara coast, natural habitats and wildlife. My office is working closely with our state and federal partners on an investigation of this conduct to ensure we hold responsible parties accountable.”
This spill hits a little closer to home for me. I live in northern California, and I volunteer with marine mammals like the California sea lions and elephant seals being effected by this spill. In addition, fish, birds, and other wildlife are being affected by this spill. Apparently, it is the only major pipeline in the area without an automatic shut off valve because of the previous owner somehow talking his way around the requirements back in the ’80s. That is unacceptable. As of today, they still hadn’t found the segment of pipeline with the leak.
In an MSNBC article, it is reported that:
“The oil transportation company has been fined at least 10 times for oil spill violations in four other states between 2004 and 2007, according to reports. The Houston-based company has been deemed the “worst violators” by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration.”
This company needs a kick in the butt. They should be shut down. That many violations and failure to have an automatic shut off valve?! It makes me sick just thinking about it. We can only hope that this was a lesson to them, and that they will be held fully responsible.
Well, the boyfriend came down with a nasty virus so unfortunately, there was no hike this weekend. It was even my birthday weekend! But he is feeling somewhat better so hopefully next Sunday we can do another Sunday Funday hike.
I feel like haven’t written much about The Marine Mammal Center lately. That’s because things have somewhat slowed down. It is nice to have time to sit down and take a coffee and lunch break for a change. The ellies are slowly but surely learning to eat and compete with each other and each week more are released. Soon we will hit a peak again but this time with California sea lions. Each year, most baby sea lion pups are born in June, and since we have just entered june, it is only a matter of time before they take over. That isn’t to say that we haven’t had plenty of sea lions already, but we soon shall have plenty more.
This past Thursday, BBC had a camera crew at the center filming a documentary. Myself and two others from my crew were “volunteered” by our crew-mates to wear microphones and be filmed working with the elephant seals. Specifically, they wanted us wearing the microphones to catch some of the vocalizations of the ellies while we did fish school, which involves tying a string around the tail of a fish and dragging it around the water in the hopes that it will trigger predatory instincts in the pups. One of the others with me wore a GoPro camera on her chest to catch the volunteers perspective during fish school and hand feeding. Then, they used a pole with a GoPro on it to get the ellie’s perspective during fish school and hand feeding. They also took some other video clip angles while we were feeding a pen, including some underwater shots. I think it goes without saying that the pups were very interested in the camera and kept trying to bite at it! They’re so curious, I love it. I don’t know when that will air but I will post it or link to it as soon as it does. That way you all can get a glimpse at some of what we do there!
In the mean time, here is a picture of one of the elephant seal pups being curious as always!
One of the curious elephant seal pups I volunteer with!
Today marks my third week volunteering at The Marine Mammal Center. Still not many animals yet this season. There were two new California sea lions. I got to watch the veterinary staff examine one of them but it was through the fence of the pen so it was difficult to see. There was one harbor seal pup last week and now there are two but I still haven’t seen them. They’re very susceptible to diseases and are a little more delicate to take care of so they are housed in a different area and have their own set of volunteers. There is Topside (where I volunteer with sea lions, elephant seals, and fur seals) and then there is the harbor seal hospital.
So far they have been short workdays because the animal count as low but as the season progresses, I can expect longer and busier days. I plan to write each week about my experiences at the center that day. I am on the Thursday Day Crew.
In order to volunteer I had to go to an information meeting and an orientation. Then in order to be allowed in the pens with the animals I had to take a basic animal husbandry course. Once I’ve volunteered three months I can take the basic meds course so that I will be allowed to pull medications for the animals that need them. There are other courses that allow you to have different responsibilities but these are the ones I have taken so far. I plan to take the basic meds course in June. Unfortunately, with my busy work and school schedule, it can be somewhat challenging to fit everything I want to do in. But I am determined so I always find a way!
Those of you that follow my blog may have noticed that I kind of dropped off the grid a while back. I got a new job and have been working a lot of hours (50+ a week) and I am also a full time student taking online classes to become a registered veterinary technician.
I apologize for the lack of posts.
Now I hope to start writing more again. This time it will be different, though. I cannot promise regular posts about consistent topics. Ain’t nobody got time for that! There will be Weird Wildlife Wednesdays from time to time but not every week. Sometimes I may write about or post interesting things that I come across and they will be related to all of my favorite topics: wildlife rehabilitation, veterinary things, nature, travel, books, etc. I will try to post at least once a week.
I thank you for your understanding and hope that you find some of what I post interesting!
This morning I read an article on CNN Heroes about a woman named Mona Rutger. It is people like her that inspire me to want to work in wildlife rehabilitation. It is by no means a career that is going to bring you wealth and fame, but it is a career so rewarding that you will feel like the wealthiest person in the world.
Licensed wildlife rehabilitators, especially those not working in a larger established facility, give up all of their time, money, sweat, and tears to try and heal wounded wildlife and return them to their rightful home in the wild. Rutger is quoted in the article saying “Everyone says, ‘Let nature take its course,’ but 90% of these animals’ injuries are human-related. That’s not nature. It’s us.”
That is how I originally became interested in wildlife rehab back when I did my first rehabilitation internship at the Missouri Wildlife Rescue Center. I noticed so many animals coming in with human caused injuries. Hit by a car, attacked by a dog, hit with a lawn mower, and firework injuries around the Fourth of July. Humans need to be more careful in their interactions with nature and realize that these animals are living breathing souls as well. I can’t tell you how many opossums, for example, came in during my internship dead from being hit by a car but with live babies still in their pouch. Because the human may not have seen the mother, those joeys are now orphans.
Mona Rutger and others like her are truly inspirational for people like me who hope to enter the rehabilitation field. I can only hope that people appreciate what people like that do. Rehabilitation facilities usually rely entirely on donations and volunteer help so I encourage anyone interested to donate to your local center and even volunteer to help out if you have time.
Link to CNN Heroes: Mona Rutger article.