At some point in time, almost all people that rescue wildlife are asked “Why do you do it?” Sometimes after a summer of long, hard days we also have to ask ourselves. While there are many reasons, I just want to share one of them with you.
My husband & I have been busy at work this summer, but the stars aligned so we were able to get a few days off at the same time to backpack the Lost Coast. Its a 24 mile stretch of northern California coast that was never developed since the terrain is so rugged that engineers decided to take Highway 1 inland rather than try to push through. Its been on our bucket list for some time.
It was the most physically demanding backpacking trip I’ve ever been on. Not the most in miles, but the terrain was really tough. Jumping from beach rock to beach rock on slanted surfaces for miles on end. Also, we had to keep a reasonable pace in order to make it through the sections that can’t be passed during high tides. The rocks ended up ripping the sole off one of my boots. Good thing Gorilla Tape is TOUGH! Even so, it was quite worth it, especially the southern section of the trail. Very pristine. Less people. More wildlife.
We woke up one morning to an otter family chirping at each other. A momma and two kits about 2/3 her size. Mom had already caught a 10″ long, thin fish. It took her about 20 minutes to eat it. During this time she was sitting on a rock outcropping on the beach. The ocean waves kept coming in and bowling over her kits. While she was eating she didn’t seem to care. However, once she had a full tummy, she became a fantastic Mom. She took the kits out into the ocean. First she caught a small fish that she gave to the smaller kit. The kit swam it in to shore and started feasting with rapt attention. In the meantime, Mom caught a crab and gave it to the other kit. Both kits were beyond belief adorable with cute otter faces and butts!
Once the kit on shore finished eating, he suddenly remembered that he wasn’t near his family, so he started chirping frantically. Mom answered and he started to swim to her, chirping the whole way until he was on top of a wave and could see her. Then he stopped chirping. However as the wave fell and he couldn’t see her he started to panic and chirp again. Once on top of the wave and in view again, he stopped chirping. He repeated this 3 times before he reached Mom. It was quite comical since he wasn’t in any danger. When he finally got near Mom, he immediately jumped on her back for a ride. Because he was so big, he almost drowned her. Once he calmed down, she kicked him off. We ended up watching them for about an hour!
So this is one reason that I work for the Oiled Wildlife Care Network: To work to preserve and raise awareness of the importance of pristine wilderness and the wildlife that depends on it. When I am exhausted from writing one more protocol, checking a training status in the database, or gavaging one more seabird, I think about what these animals would be doing if it weren’t for our communal dependence on fossil fuels. Then I resolve that I will do everything in my power to make sure if any animal is oiled that it has the best chance possible to return to its wild life.
Punta Gorda Lighthouse
View of Lost Coast
Hiking on rocks!