By Adrienne Gee, Marine Mammal Rescue centre volunteer
After a long week, what could be more romantic than spending Friday evening with your partner doing something you both love? For volunteers at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre (MMR) – Vancouver Aquarium’s hospital for sick and injured marine animals – that means caring for rescued animals and preparing them for release back into the wild.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we interviewed couples who spend their date nights at the MMR.
Carlo and Laura are the couple who started date night at MMR. They began volunteering together on Friday evenings because they felt it was a great way to finish off their work week and kick off the weekend. According to Laura, “nothing says date night romance like cleaning up seal poop and sorting herring.” They were quickly joined by other couples, and soon Friday evening became known as “date night at MMR” among staff and volunteers.
Pat and his wife Amanda agree that it’s a “unique” date night. But they like spending time together doing something that they both enjoy. They joke that “nothing brings a couple closer together than spending the ride home talking about how you both stink of fish.” Pat and Amanda were fortunate to assist with a seal rescue last summer. They fondly remember it as the day they got a chance to “take a long walk on the beach at sunset… carrying a bunch of rescue equipment and a somewhat displeased seal.”
Lupe and Jay started volunteering as a couple in 2018. They felt the opportunity to volunteer as a couple was a great way to strengthen their relationship. Lupe explained that “when couples have been together as long as we have, six years, they sometimes don’t make time for each other.” The time they spend at MMR reminds them “how important it is to give back to society and help animals in need.” Lupe and Jay love watching the seal pups grow up, gain weight and learn to fish on their own. “We are helping wild animals rehabilitate and go back to the ocean.”
Nicole, who is the volunteer coordinator of the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, says she likes seeing couples volunteering together. “It is great to have people on shift who already work well as a team and enjoy spending time together.” All the couples who were interviewed echoed Nicole’s comments and said what they love about volunteering at MMR is the chance to give back by doing something they are passionate about as a couple, and creating new memories and experiences. As Pat said, “Not every couple can say that they spent an evening feeding baby seals, or an afternoon releasing the seals back into the ocean.”
To learn more about volunteering at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, visit https://rescue.ocean.org/volunteer.