While some students spend their summer working with cattle and horses, one student from Colorado State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences is diving into the world of marine mammals by helping rehabilitate sea lions, harbor seals and elephant seal pups. Kayla Steed, a junior majoring in animal science, is spending her summer working at the Marine Mammal Care Center Los Angeles in San Pedro, Calif.
Steed spends much of her seven-hour shifts gaining experience by participating in mass feeds, cleaning pens, understanding animal behavior, learning about restraints for assisted feeds, and even tube feeding animals that are not strong enough to feed on their own.
Helping marine mammals
“It is a pleasure to watch the marine mammals crawl out into the ocean, their home,” said Steed. “I feel that all of my hard work pays off when the marine animals get to go home to the open waters. The Marine Mammal Care Center internship is amazing, and I have gotten to know great
individuals who are veterinarian students, veterinarians on staff as well as others that are interested in marine sciences.”
The center was established in 1992 and is a hospital for sick and injured marine mammals that are stranded along the Los Angeles County coastline. Located in San Pedro, the center primarily treats and releases rescued California sea lions, northern elephant seals, Pacific harbor seals, and northern fur seals. Among the many reasons animals might end up at the center include beaching, sickness, or injury; malnutrition; parasitism; traumatic injuries; bacterial and viral infections; human interactions; and harmful algal blooms. In 2016 alone, 450 marine mammals were treated at the center.
‘Passion and desire to learn’
“Kayla has been a great addition to our Animal Care Team at Marine Mammal Care Center LA,” said
Kristi Fera, community relations manager at the Center. “Her willingness to jump right in and learn every task no matter how small is what we look for in our interns. We can tell Kayla’s passion and desire to learn is what drives her to succeed. At the Marine Mammal Care Center LA, Kayla is exposed to several different volunteers and staff each day. Everyone she meets enjoys working with her and beside her during her shifts. We will hate to see her leave us and return to CSU.”
“I have always been excited about this internship, but had never thought that I would have a passion for marine mammals until now,” said Steed.
Marine Mammal Care Center
For more information on the Marine Mammal Care Center Los Angeles, visit their website.