PEI

Marine Animal Response Society looking for P.E.I. volunteers

A group that has been helping out right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is looking for new volunteers.

'They really are the heart of helping us do what we can do'

'They are the first people we can get on site, if we have people in local communities,' says Tonya Wimmer, executive director of MARS. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

A group that has been helping out North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is looking for new volunteers.

The Marine Animal Response Society has been in the news helping to investigate why right whales have been dying in the gulf. Twelve were found dead in in 2017 and more were found this year.

While playing a more public role recently, the group has existed for decades. It relies heavily on volunteers, and now the group needs more.

"We have been working throughout the Maritimes for 20 years now," said founder Tonya Wimmer.

Wimmer was in Alberton on Tuesday night trying to drum up more volunteers for the group as part of a community tour. She said volunteers are important to the organization, especially if there is a marine animal emergency. 

"They are the first people we can get on site, if we have people in local communities. Even to get us some basic information, confirm what is reported, help us out a little bit until we can get the proper sort of authorized people on site," she said.

"They really are the heart of helping us do what we can do."

What are you willing to do?

Wimmer said most people can become a volunteer, but it is based on what people are willing to do.

"We do investigate dead animals, we help lives ones and people may not be interested in some of those things, especially the dead animal side. Or they may not physically be able to help with a live animal," Wimmer said.

Tour continues

Wimmer will be at the Craft Beer Corner in Charlottetown at 7 p.m. Wednesday continuing her tour and letting people know how they can help the group.

"It's not always necessarily hands on with the animal. But it is even on site helping us with videos and data collection. People walking beaches reporting incidents when they see them," she said.

Wimmer said it is about getting as much information as the group can about marine animals.

The commitment for a volunteer all depends on where they live and if incidents occur, Wimmer said.

"It may not be all the time for some people. It might be quite often for some in the summertime. Prince Edward Island, we do get quite a few animals, but really it is just about having people and teams at the ready when something might come up," she said.

Wimmer said her tour isn't just for gathering volunteers. It is also to raise awareness that MARS exists and of the 24-hour hotline, 1-866-567-6277, for anyone who sees incidents of marine animals in distress.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.