Precise brings you Glen Wiggins' experience of volunteering at a seal rehabilitation centre in The Netherlands.
Snail porridge is so old hat. This year it’s all about fish porridge.
Let me explain. While I work in the oil and gas industry, I spend my downtime volunteering with all sorts of projects around the world that work to protect and enhance marine life. At the minute I’m working with seals and they love fish porridge. I get to make it for them and it’s a lot better than it sounds. (Making it, not eating it..)
The team at Precise Consultants know all about my passion for working with marine charities, and asked me to write a short story about my experience at Zeehondencreche, a seal rehabilitation centre located in Pieterburen, The Netherlands. Since I have been freelancing with these guys for over a year now and enjoy an abundance of work, I thought I could at least reciprocate with this article.
I grew up in British Columbia, Canada and now live in Scotland but have always had an affinity for the ocean and the creatures that live in it. Volunteering for NGOs and research projects has only really been possible since I started freelancing. That was in October 2013 and already I’ve been able to travel and work in the Dominican Republic (Humpback whales), Spain (Sperm whales and dolphins), and as I mentioned The Netherlands with seals. If luck is on my side, later this year I will be working on a short internship with bottlenose dolphins and Minke whales in Northeast Scotland. It was always my intent to “give back something” to the marine environment when I started in this industry, by volunteering and training on marine mammal projects throughout the world.
I am now on week seven of eight of my time at Zeehondencreche and really enjoy working with the common (harbour) and grey seals. The nurses, veterinarians, volunteers and staff all work together to ensure the injured or sick seals that come into the centre are well cared for and spend as little time as possible here before being released back to the wild – which is the goal at Zeehondencreche. Just a couple of weeks ago we released four healthy common seals which was an amazing experience. Please check out the video link http://q-music.nl/nieuws/mattie-laat-zeehond-wietze-vrij. It is in Dutch but you’ll get the idea as a local radio station did it as part of their sponsorship of one of the seals. You can spot me in an orange sweater at the facility and later at the release in a black hat along with some of the staff and volunteers.
A lot of my time as a volunteer is spent cleaning seal enclosures, common areas, preparing fish and fish porridge, folding the huge amounts of laundry and other various tasks including cooking for 20+ people once a week. It is a lot of work but rewarding and you get to work with some great people as well. The seals are fed between two to four times per day depending on their stage of development and health. I have been fortunate enough to hand feed some of the seals. And yes, in case you were wondering, they do have some rather large teeth! About two weeks ago a rare all-black grey seal was accidentally caught by a fisherman who called the centre and the team quickly responded and brought her to the centre. Her name is “Happy” and she is now a star attraction at the visitor centre for the public while she is recovering https://www.facebook.com/zeehondenpieterburen?fref=ts.
Volunteering opportunities are not as difficult as it may seem to find. By signing up to newsletters and scanning various websites on the internet it is quite easy to find NGOs and other organisations that need our help. The only real limitation is your amount of commitment which can be anywhere from a week to several months depending on your other work commitments and lifestyle. Of course there are other ways you can help and they are more conventional such as donating money or sponsoring an individual animal. I try to give up about three months a year of my time to these various causes around the world at the moment. It is hugely rewarding and I highly recommend it!
Youtube video for release: http://q-music.nl/nieuws/mattie-laat-zeehond-wietze-vrij
Zeehondencreche website: http://www.zeehondencreche.nl/home/
Zeehondencreche facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zeehondenpieterburen?fref=ts