Picture this: what does one human baby need to be properly looked after? They need to be fed and have their diapers changed, and they need a safe and clean place to sleep. Now picture a hundred seal pups that need similar care. It takes a hardworking, passionate and dedicated team of individuals to look after all of these animals. That’s where the MMR volunteers come in.

From 7 a.m. until 10 p.m., volunteers work with the staff to help rehabilitate and release hundreds of animals back to their natural habitats. Volunteers are responsible for cleaning facilities and animal care spaces, preparing food and assisting in feeding the animals.

“It’s not glamourous work. You really get down and dirty”, said Nicole Shorrock, Ocean Wise’s Volunteer Coordinator. “You’ll get dirty and probably smell like fish and seal, but it’s very rewarding. Our volunteers do lots of cleaning up after the pups and sorting fish, and it can be hard work and physically demanding.”

Despite the smelly work, what the volunteers love most about working at MMR is seeing the incredible impact that they have on each animal that comes in. Volunteers at MMR get to see the progression of an animal’s health improving, which is a really powerful feeling. Nicole adds, “There is an immediate satisfaction from seeing a baby seal swimming around in its habitat that you’ve just cleaned. You feel a huge sense of accomplishment watching an animal’s health progress from start to finish – from when the animal was admitted to watching it get released back into its natural habitat.”

There are currently 283 active MMR volunteers who will be returning for the 2019 season and Nicole hopes to recruit an additional 100 new volunteers to their team. Nicole knows how much they do to support the Rescue Centre, she says “We couldn’t do our jobs without our volunteers. With so many animals coming in, we couldn’t keep up. Our volunteers allow our staff to focus on what’s important, which is the animal health and welfare.”

So what exactly does it take to be a volunteer at MMR? Nicole says that there are three key traits to note:

  1. Passion: Keeping an open mind on the job is important. MMR volunteers are extremely passionate and are willing to learn!
  2. Flexibility: Day-to-day activities change from shift to shift. Volunteers need to be ready to adjust their tasking at any time.
  3. Commitment: Volunteers focus on being proactive team players and always plan for the day ahead.

“Our big motto here at MMR is that we set everybody up for success. We set our staff up for success; we set our volunteers up for success and we set our patients up for success. Working at MMR is like being on a sports team. You build very close relationships with everyone on the team,” Nicole adds.


To be an eligible applicant, you must complete a minimum of 50 hours with the Vancouver Aquarium volunteer program in the past 18 months. If you are passionate about animal care, consider applying to the 2020 season. Find out more about the eligibility requirements here: Volunteer With Us.

If you want to learn more about the MMR team and what they do, check out the After Hours event at the Vancouver Aquarium on May 4. Event details here: After Hours.

This blog was written by a volunteer engagement writer, Natalie.

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