One day in April of 2007, I was walking my dogs along the beach near my house and I almost stepped on an elephant seal. It was half buried in the sand and it wasn’t the least bit scared of me (or my dogs). The fact that it wasn’t reacting to us worried me so I called the police. They said that if it doesn’t look injured then it’s fine, but that didn’t sit well with me. I decided to stay next to it with the hope that it would eventually go back in the ocean on it’s own. About 10 minutes later guy came out of nowhere and threw a hoop net over it, sinched it up and asked if I would help him take it back to his truck. He politely explained he was with the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center and that the seal was going through a catastrophic molting process that was very normal that time of year. He said he was going to relocate it to a more secluded beach where it could rest without being bothered. I was fascinated and began volunteering at the center the very next week.
About one month later I made my first trip to our Channel Islands to release 8 sea lions that were successfully rehabbed at the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center. We anchored in front of Painted Cave at Santa Cruz Island at about 40ft. deep and I could see right to the bottom. It was absolutely full of life. There was a dive boat nearby and I thought to myself, I want to be down there! Not long after that I was SCUBA certified.
All of a sudden I found myself making frequent trips to the Islands to release rehabbed animals, encountering several species of whales, dolphins and porpoises along the way that I had never seen before in the wild. I had no idea we had so many “neighbors.” I also had no idea that so many ended up on our beaches suffering from a number of problems. Malnutrition, domoic acid poisoning, abscesses, shark bites, fishing entanglements, you name it I’ve seen it. My experiences diving and rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing marine mammals was a life-changer.
I’ve developed a fierce interest to learn more about fisheries, fisheries management, conservation strategies and just about anything that has to do with ocean health. I’ve developed a deep appreciation for the ocean and all life that calls the ocean it’s home. I want to do what I can to ensure that my future children and future generations will be able to enjoy the ocean and all it has to offer as much as I have.
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You can email me at: eatusseafood at gmail dot com