Another week has gone by, and every day that passes brings me a bit closer to the end of my journey here. I have realized that it is time to start making some big girl, life-changing decisions which is pretty intimidating when I stop long enough to think about it. There is a lot to consider, but for now I will reflect on the small things that have meant so much to me over my time here, so far.
I have written about the seals a bit, but have not thought to give you the little details, the nuances, that make me fall in love with them that much more every day. I haven't told you about Waffle's cleft lip, and the way it has given her a permanently skeptical grimace. So cute. I haven't told you about Pudding, and how she is the tiniest seal with the ferocity of a lion. There's Cookie, a big oaf who charges your leg just to nuzzle at it, and then of course there's crazy Rhubarb. The plan was to call her Ruby when when she was nice and Barb when she was mean, but she has proven to be a terror one hundred percent of the time and has gone exclusively by Barb since day one. Shrimp poses like an old man when she waits for her fish, and Chickpea has the spookiest blind eye that just makes him so much more loveable. There's Panini, our first grey seal of the season, who is stunning and a bit needy (which is fine because we all want to pamper her) And then of course there is my beautiful baby girl Sundae. I may be biased, but she is the most perfect. A bit of a runt, she is a petite but very round little girl. She has completely shed her baby lanugo, but has remained a silvery white color that is so pretty. She suckles on her flips (which to me resembles a child sucking on a thumb) and hiccups after meal time as she snoozes on her heat mat. Below you can see her ignoring fish school as she plays in her tub.
The seals are not the only ones that are lovable around here though. I would be lying if I said the people here don't have their own special quirks that have won over my heart. Ellen is our gift shop manager, and she is the most loving individual who gives the warmest hugs but is also quite the boss lady when she needs to be. Kinga, who is a vet from Romania, is a force. She is a tiny person with so much strength and intellect and I feel so lucky to learn from her. Matt, the king of making our seal pups money so that their bellies stay full of fish, torments me regularly from a place of love (I think) and keeps my days from getting too dull. He also sounds like a character from a Charles Dickens novel which is pretty amusing. There's Irish Bri, who is the funniest and just so good at everything she does, and Em who is as strong as she is comforting. And then there is Jesh - a kiwi with a fondness for the word "epic" and so much passion for fixing this planet, and his other half Mel who is just as determined. There's Joe who runs the SPCA where we walk shelter dogs on Friday's and Saturday's in exchange for his help on Sunday's - who cares just as much about our seal pups as he does his own canine babies. Gale, our house manager, may act like she can't stand us, but we all know the love is there. Callan, with his moobears and his neddies, is a northern bloke who says a lot of strange things but has a great heart. Parker and Ffion are the newest addition to the team, and I am so lucky to have two such cool lasses as roomies. And lastly there is Sam, the heart and soul of SRI I am pretty sure the whole place would come crumbling down without him.
On a more depressing note, I think it is also important to talk about the sadness that accompanies working at a place like SRI. Because we are a wildlife rehab our pups frequently come to us malnourished, injured, and sometimes in critical condition. My second baby, Doughnut, who had come to us with a giant laceration on his face unfortunately passed away overnight a week into his stay here. It is important to understand that SRI exists largely because human interference is detrimental to the wellbeing of the seal population. We litter plastic that the seals eat which leads to obstructions in their bellies and frequently results in death. Our fishing lines and nets get caught around their necks and suffocate them, this is after the plastic cuts into their skin as their bodies grow but the net or fishing line, of course, does not. Our overcrowding of beaches and desire to take a close-up photo or even pet a seal pup scares momma seals away and leaves babies orphaned. While a lot of our seals do survive, working here means understanding that this is not always the case. But every day brings a new challenge, and every sad experience makes me that much more passionate about educating the public to try and prevent these tragedies from reoccurring.
To wrap it up this post is really just me being sappy as I realize that my time here is slowly running out. With one month to go, there haven't been too many changes to my routine or new experiences recently, and I think that maybe this is the reason I have had a chance to stop and really appreciate all of the little things that I don't take the time to think about during my busy, tiring days. More updates and cute baby seal photos to come :) and as always I am so excited to see what tomorrow will bring. Also a big thank you to SRI management for my staff spotlight post! It means so much!