The Marine Animal Sanctuary in Morro Bay is in urgent need of new volunteers

A marine animal rescue center in Morro Bay says it urgently needs new volunteers.

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

An injured sea otter who has returned to health was recently released back into the wild on Avila Beach.

The otter, affectionately named Spinny, triumphantly returned to the ocean on November 10e.

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

The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito is the largest marine animal hospital in the world, and their field office in Morro Bay plays an important role in helping injured marine life. “We’re sort of a triage center, so we bring them here and give them immediate help under the guidance of the vet staff who are in Sausalito,” says volunteer Holly Weir.

The latest rescue took place on Avila Beach on Tuesday when a sea lion was found with a deep cut on one of its webbed feet.

Volunteers say it’s easy to get attached to the animals they save.

“They have personalities. I remember a lot about it,” Weir said. “I remember the first elephant seal I restrained so I could tube feed it — his name was Donkey.”

The Marine Mammal Center aims to train dozens of new volunteers before elephant seal season begins in San Simeon.

“They stay with their mother for about four weeks and then mother leaves and they have to figure out how to be seals on their own,” Zink said.

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

“Some are not doing very well and then we intervene,” explains Zink.

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

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

The Marine Mammal Center is currently recruiting volunteers and orientation day is January 14e.

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

The center will accept applications until December 1st.

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