A summer of working as an intern at the Seal Conservancy of San Diego has proven to be a wonderful experience says Alivia Danhoff ’17 of Clyde, Ohio.
The internship at the conservancy created a unique educational experience for Alivia, who is majoring in Biology with a minor in Marine Biology at Wittenberg. She spent two months learning about harbor seals and sharing her experience with the public in La Jolla, Calif.
“I was looking for an internship on my own, not through Wittenberg, working with any marine mammals. As it turned out, they were looking for an intern, so it worked out perfectly,” Danhoff said. Her main duties at the conservancy focused on sharing information about harbor seals with the community.
“Wittenberg is, I think, one of three places in Ohio you can go for Marine Biology,” Danhoff said. Wittenberg has given her other opportunities to gain hands-on experience in Marine Biology. "Wittenberg has opportunities where you get to go to Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, North Carolina. I studied there twice and did research,” she added.
The Seal Conservancy of San Diego has a two-fold purpose - to preserve the La Jolla Harbor Seal Rookery and provide environmental education and safe viewing of harbor seals at Casa Beach.
“We worked with educating the public about seals. I traveled around La Jolla and educated at schools, and educated the docents," said Danhoff, who also had the opportunity to be involved in seal rescue. “We helped facilitate rescues, however the seal may have been injured.”
She helped in locating injured seals. And when the rescue actually took place, she would help the Conservancy staff by educating the public about what was going on and keeping the public back.
Alivia also had the opportunity to see the work done in the rescue centers.
“Then they would come back to the beach and we’d see them returned. It was awesome,” she said.
Alivia found the internship educationally invaluable. She would like to find a similar experience working with other marine mammals. At this point she does not know if she would like to focus on seals after graduation.
“I’m not quite sure, I had a wonderful experience. I found I know everything there is to know about the physiology of seals and their habitat. I would love to do that with another animal. I would jump on that,” she said. “My ultimate goal is to work with the rescue and rehabilitation of marine mammals, however that works out.”
Alivia's summer internship was the subject of a news article in the Fremont, Ohio News Messenger, which formed the basis of this article.