Nine days. It only took nine days to get my first stranding call. Actually, by the official definition, it was not technically a stranding. However, I am going to count it because it was a good, easy call to start of my Americorps term as the Marine Mammal Stranding Educator.
I’m from Brooklyn, New York. We don’t have many marine mammals in those waters. My first experience with them was after college and ever since then I’ve stayed close to the field volunteering for organizations involved with stranding, but this was my first interaction with a stranding as the marine mammal stranding member — I was excited.
Before I go on, let me first define what a stranding actually is. A stranding is when a marine mammal is in one of four different situations:
- In a place that is dangerous to humans or animals
- Dead on shore or in the water
- On shore and able to return to the water, but in need of medical assistance
- In the water but not able to return to its natural habitat without assistance My first "stranding" was none of those.
It was 5:30 pm on a Saturday. I had just closed the Orca Exhibit and I was tired. Neil, the intern, had left the building right before me. By the time I had gathered my things and locked up he was back at the entrance wearing the same tired look as I wore on my face. “There is a seal pup down the beach."