A summer Well spent: Interning with the ASLC Wildlife Response Program

2023 Wildlife Response Season From the Eyes of Jordyn Collis, ASLC Summer Intern

When I learned I would be coming to ASLC as a wildlife response Intern, I briefly worried, “What if it’s a slow season and we don’t get many patients?” 

That fear was very quickly put to rest when I arrived in Seward, and our team took in nine harbor seal patients in two weeks! My fellow interns and I received a “crash course” in wildlife response as we rapidly learned about all the moving parts of rehabilitating harbor seals. 

ASLC 2023 wildlife response interns pose with the stuffed animal seal “JJ” that they frequently trained and reviewed handling skills with.  

I remember seeing my first harbor seal in real life and being overwhelmed by how round and adorable she looked. To my surprise, the vet team told me she was actually quite skinny and would hopefully gain a lot of weight in our care to become even more plump. While there were a lot of long days and nights at first, I was constantly amazed that I was working with these incredible animals.

One of my favorite aspects of wildlife response is the combination of husbandry and medical care. We not only have to take care of daily cleaning and food prep, but also assist the veterinary team with medication administration, medical exams, and sample collection! As someone who comes from a veterinary background, it’s been so cool to learn about husbandry while expanding my veterinary knowledge to a new species.

Something I didn’t expect to learn about harbor seals was how they all have distinct personalities! Some of them have very loud and outgoing personalities, while others are more mellow. 

The kiddo that stuck out to me this season was PV2310. He came in very skinny and lethargic, and he started regurgitating his food, so we were pretty worried about him for a while. However, as we continued his medical treatments and feeds, he began to grow and become stronger. Now he’s graduated to eating fish like a champ and was even introduced to another patient, PV2311! 

I’m just beyond proud of all our patients and feel so lucky I got to spend my summer watching them grow into plump seals ready for release back to the ocean. 

While working with these animals is what drew me to this internship, surviving the craziness of this season wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing staff members of the team. Because we got so many seals so quickly, my fellow interns and I had to learn a lot very fast. 

While this was intimidating at first, our supervisors ensured we felt comfortable asking questions and took the time to walk us through all the steps of what we were doing so we could succeed. Not only are Jane, Halley, Savannah, and Emma fantastic at their jobs, but they’re also incredible people! They created such a positive environment, even amidst the chaos that allowed us to learn safely, sing through the hours of food prep, and do a little dance while cleaning.  

2023 ASLC Wildlife Response Intern Jordyn

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