It does not matter if the call to the stranding hotline comes in at two in the morning or two in the afternoon. Riverhead Foundation staff members are ready to mobilize and come to the rescue of a sick or injured marine mammal (seal, whale, dolphin, or porpoise) or sea turtle.
A call to the hotline is handled by an answering service, which quickly sends out a page to the three staff members who are on call. The staff member who responds calls the individual who spotted the animal to get some information about size, injuries and location, and to find out if the animal is stranded.
Armed with wetsuits, nets, cages and other materials needed for a recovery, a response team goes out to bring the stranded animal in while another team prepares the rescue area back at the Riverhead Foundation.
When the animal arrives recording weight and measurements and drawing blood are the first order of business. If the animal is a seal he or she must be restrained by one of the staff members who has to "suit up," meaning put on a survival suit that protects his or her body from the seal's sharp teeth. Depending on the animal, a tubing is prepared to give the animal fluids. In the case of cold stunned sea turtles, warm compresses and a heat lamp are prepared to warm the turtles up, slowly. When the physical is finished each animal is placed into its own tank, and rehabilitation has begun.
Learn more about the people rescuing animals at the Riverhead Foundation.