Oiled Sea Otter Rehabilitation Course

The Role of Volunteers

Oiled sea otters require care twenty-four hours a day, so a core professional staff of administrators, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and animal care specialists is required (Table 13.1). The support staff should be large enough for three eight-hour shifts so that the otters receive continuous care. Some overlap in shifts will allow the exchange of information among staff members, especially the husbandry staff.

The appropriate staff size will depend on the number and health of the otters in the facility. At the beginning of a spill when capture teams are in full operation and heavily oiled otters require intensive care (one animal monitor per three otters), the number of personnel will range from 137 to 392 for facilities with capacities of 50 to 200 sea otters, respectively (Table 13.1). After capture operations end and the rehabilitated otters require less care (one animal monitor per ten otters), the staff can be decreased by fifty percent or more. Staff reductions should occur in accordance with efficient management of the facility and husbandry needs of the otters. At the time of their employment, all personnel should be told that the rescue program is temporary, and that their jobs will be terminated as the otters are rehabilitated and released.