(January 14, 2019) --

Volunteers help in response to strandings and distress calls.

The Dauphin Island Sea Lab Marine Mammal Research Program keeps busy throughout the year responding to strandings and distress calls, and their volunteers are an important part of the team. 

The group responded to almost 40 stranded whales and dolphins and several manatees in 2018. Most of those instances included the help of one or several volunteers. Currently, there are about 40 active volunteers, but the Marine Mammal Research program is always looking for more people to lend a hand. The need is the greatest during the Spring and Summer.  
"We rely immensely on volunteers as our hands and feet in the field, in necropsies, and during outreach events." ALMMSN Stranding Coordinator Mackenzie Russell said. "Volunteers are usually the first on scene and are in charge of providing us with information about the stranding so we can ready ourselves and our equipment for whatever response is warranted."

Volunteers are a huge part of outreach events held throughout the community.

Volunteer response can include securing carcasses, confirming strandings/species/size of the animal, assisting during live animal responses by recording information and crowd control, and assisting with outreach events to help raise awareness about marine mammals and the work that the DISL Marine Mammal Research Program does.

In an effort to include more volunteers from Mobile and Baldwin County, the program scheduled a a volunteer training at Battleship Park on the causeway in Mobile on Tuesday, January 29 from 5 to 7 p.m. The training is currently at capacity. 

The training will cover topics such as live animal response, dead animal response, animal first aid and triage, safety and disease protocols, general anatomy and biology, and how to use the equipment. The training is required for all Marine Mammal Research Program volunteers and covers the basics before you can attend any additional trainings. If you are a long-time volunteer and have not been to a training, plan to attend this event.

If you have questions about volunteering for the MMRP, email mrussell@disl.org.  

If you see a sick, injured, or deceased marine mammal in Alabama, please call 1-877-WHALE-HELP right away.