Katy Roscoe spent her summer rehabilitating seals and sea lions, getting great experience towards future aspirationsInternships can give people valuable experience, even if it's not directly related. Katy Roscoe is hoping to someday perform research on whale behavior, but spending her summer with the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center gave her some valuable time spent working directly with marine mammals this past summer.
The Northcoast Marine Mammal Center is based out of Crescent City, California. Started in 1984, they cover approximately 200 miles of coast line in northern California working to rescue and rehabilitate marine mammals. Mostly, they work with seals and sea lions, responding to several hundreds of reports per year on average of distressed animals.
And that's where interns such as Katy Roscoe come in. Her internship involved all manner of work, including more administrative oriented work, but mainly it was about being the animals. "The animal care part was absolutely by far and away my favorite thing" Roscoe said. She got to perform a wide range of animal care activities including drawing blood, feeding, treating wounds, and rescue and release.
Roscoe loved working with the seals out there, even if it wasn't her ultimate goal to be hands-on with animals. Volunteers have to be careful not to make much of a connection with the animals so they don't become accustomed to humans, but even with that she still had a favorite one.
She got to name the Seal Cerulean, after the crayon; that year they had bought a box of 120 crayons, and every time a new seal came in they would pick a crayon and name it after the color. "She came in with pretty severe wounds on her back, we think it was either from a shark attack or a propeller," Roscoe said. When Cerulean first came in, she said the wounds looked really bad, but by the time she left, she was free feeding with other animals, healthy, and had healed really nicely. "She was a success story, and she was my favorite for sure; she was really cute."
She said this summer was also an eye opening experience to how the animals get treated. She said one day they came across a dead seal on the beach with a gunshot wound to the head was a big moment. She said fisherman will sometimes shoot the animals because they can eat their fish.
On top of it being upsetting to see, it made her realize "rescuing those animals really is necessary because I kind of feel like we owe it to them based off our exploitation of them in the past."
Roscoe said there were a lot of sad moments like that, but overall had a great experience. Getting hands on time with marine mammals is a good way to prepare, including making valuable connections. She learned too about another marine mammal center with much larger facilities in southern California which aligns more with her ultimate goals: studying whale behaviors.
"My ultimate goal is research though, I want to be out in the field," Roscoe said. Social structures, migration patterns, feeding patterns, reproductive cycles - she wants to be able to turn whale research into a career. "I want to be out on a boat."