2007-11-01 / News

How to help stranded marine animals

The Friends of the Jamestown Library present "Mystic Aquarium's First Responders for Stranded Animals," on Thursday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m.

This informative program, provided by staff members of the Mystic Aquarium, will explain how residents can become first responder for the aquariums stranded animals program. After attending the seminar, participants may decide to become a volunteer for the aquarium and get certified as a first responder.

First Responders, who must be 18 years of age, are members of the general public, who live along the CT/RI/Fisher's Island, NY coastline and are willing to drive to respond to calls in their area. They must also attend one of the aquarium's workshops that will train them to respond to initial stranded marine animal calls. First Responders never touch the animals and are trained through this course to visually identify common species and signs of physical and stress-related health issues. They contact the aquarium with all the information they have so the staff can decide the proper response. Since these responders are familiar with their coastline area, the idea is that they will be able to quickly respond to calls about stranded marine animals and because of their training, accurately be able to gauge the health of the marine mammal or sea turtle they find. While at the the scene, they can hand out species identification brochures, which they receive as part of their training. They can talk to the public about the species on our coastline and educate them about what they can do to help.

The key to the First Responders is their ability to cut the response time to a few hours allowing for a sick/injured seal to be brought in or a healthy seal to simply rest on the beach while the public is educated about why the seal is there.

The talk covers federal regulations, general information about stranding programs, specifics about Mystic Aquarium's stranding program, and the definition of a stranded animal, the process the aquarium goes through to use its first responders and their response to stranding calls. It will also cover the limitations of stranding programs, key identifying characteristics of select marine mammals and sea turtles, detailed descriptions of pinniped species and how to identify them as well as signs of physical and mental stress on pinnipeds. The talk also covers safety and the duties of first responders along with an explanation of what our first responder program does.

The talk is generally about an hour and a half long. Members of the general public as well as people interested in the First Responder program at Mystic Aquarium are welcome. Sign up is requested to ensure sufficient participation. For more information, call the library at 423-7280.

Return to top