2015-09-17 / Community

A closer look at... Marine Mammals of Maine

BY DANEEM KIM
Times Record Staff


LYNDA DOUGHTY, executive director of Marine Mammals of Maine examines a stranded, abandoned harbor seal pup on Head Beach in Phippsburg in June. 
AMIE MERCURIO PHOTOGRAPHY LYNDA DOUGHTY, executive director of Marine Mammals of Maine examines a stranded, abandoned harbor seal pup on Head Beach in Phippsburg in June. AMIE MERCURIO PHOTOGRAPHY

ORGANIZATION: Maine Mammals of Maine

FOUNDED: Spring 2012

ADDRESS: 1 High St. Suite 5, Kennebunk, ME 04043 ( our mailing address, though our address will soon change to reflect our new facility in Harpswell where we are now based out of)

PHONE NUMBER: ( 207) 233-3199

REPORTING HOTLINE: 1- 800-532-9551

WEBSITE: www.mmome.org


HARPSWELL

For local nonprofit group Marine Mammals of Maine of Kennebunk, it won’t be long before they call Harpswell their new home.

After the University of New England announced that they would be closing down their rehabilitation facilities for marine animals in 2014, MMoME, who had partnered with the college for their services, has been working to recover from the dramatic change and continue accomplishing their mission.

However, it hasn’t been easy, according to MMoME’s executive director Lynda Doughty.

Since the closing, the organization has been in the process of creating a triage center in Harpswell that will help to stabilize marine animals before they are transported to outside rehabilitation centers in Cape Cod and Connecticut.

“By doing this, we’ll be able to save the (lives) of animals and increase that survival rate for them and not have to put them down,” Doughty said.

While the center will undergo federal inspection next month, the organization has been busy preparing for volunteer training and promoting educational awareness. The Harpswell location will also place the group in the middle of their response region, which includes 2500 miles of coastline and islands.

“It’s a work in progress,” Doughty said. “We’re still new and (we’re) trying to... keep things going so that people know who we are and what we do.”

The Times Record: What is the mission of your organization?

Marine Mammals of Maine: To provide response, assistance and care for stranded marine animals and to work collaboratively with similar organizations to aid in the protection and support of marine animals as defined by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. And to provide public education and research about marine animals and the environment.

TR: How do you fulfill that mission?

MMoME: MMoME operates a 24/7 marine mammal and sea turtle hotline for the public to report stranded animals to, and a network of highly trained volunteers to assist the organization's two staff in responding to, and caring for, stranded marine mammals between Kittery and Rockland. Staff and volunteers also use field responses on busy beaches as one of many education opportunities to teach the public about marine wildlife and coastal stewardship.

TR: What are the biggest challenges MMoME faces?

MMoME: Currently, MMoME's biggest challenges are funding the organization to keep it staffed, equipped and ready to respond to the 300-350 stranded animals we receive annually, and getting sick or injured marine mammals to rehabilitation centers located out of state since the unexpected closure of UNE's rehab facility.

TR: What is something most people do not know about MMoME?

MMoME: Many people are unaware that this organization even exists. For those that do, many people do not know that we not only respond to stranded seals, but also whales, dolphins, porpoises and sea turtles.

TR: How can people best support your mission?

MMoME: As a nonprofit that relies almost entirely on private funding, the best way to support our mission is to make a donation. To further support the work that we do, it is also helpful to keep our marine animal reporting hotline number to report any strandings.

Our Ocean Commotion 5K Run/Walk will also take place on Oct. 24 at Hermit Island in Phippsburg. Registration fees are $25.

dkim@timesrecord.com

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