Marine Mammal Center

Number of students reviewing: 
Average student review (out of five): 
This is a fourth-year veterinary student externship.
This is a hands-on externship for marine mammal medicine and pathology. Students will participate in animal husbandry, handling/restraint, anesthesia, medical exams/treatments/procedures, and necropsy (as described below). Students will also be encouraged to work on and present a project during their stay.

Husbandry/ Animal Care
We require all the externs/residents to participate in at least 2 crews per week since it is a fundamental part of animal care and an excellent opportunity for hands-on experience with the animals. They will learn valuable skills such as boarding, physically restraining, tube feeding, food preparation, administering medications and SQ fluids, and learning to recognize normal vs. abnormal behavior.

Physical Exams and Records
There will be opportunities to assist with admit and recheck physical examinations on patients throughout the rotation as new animals are arriving constantly and many will need rechecks prior to release. For admit exams, they are welcome to observe the exam process, but all admit blood sampling will be performed by staff since the animals are often stressed, dehydrated, and difficult to bleed. We will ensure that they have the opportunity to do learn blood sampling techniques for stable sea lions, elephant seals on recheck or release exams while they are here. One of the techs or veterinarians will go over the patients’ charts with them and show them how we maintain our medical records. Once they are more comfortable with assessing animals, we’ll assign them some specific cases to monitor and complete daily medical records for.

Anesthesia and Surgery
We perform a variety of medical procedures on our patients at TMMC, many of which require sedation or anesthesia to facilitate handling. The student will be able to assist with anesthesia by learning about different drug combinations, monitoring anesthesia, and assisting with procedures such as radiographs, ultrasound, urine collection via catheter, and surgical procedures. They will also be able to scrub in and assist on any surgeries that happen while they are here.

Necropsy is an important part of marine mammal medicine and rehabilitation. The opportunity to perform necropsies on clinical cases is an exceptional learning experience and allows them to confirm diagnoses and visualize disease processes. During the rotation the student should get comfortable assisting with necropsy including recording data on necropsy forms, taking standard measurements, learning sampling protocols for different species, developing a systematic approach to evaluating every organ system, and accurately describing gross lesions in necropsy reports.

Beach Rescues and Releases
The Stranding Department coordinates the assessment of stranded animals in the field, determines the status of the animal, organizes capture, transport, and release, and interfaces with the public. The student may have the opportunity to become involved in animal beach assessment and/or go out on a release while they are here.
We conduct rounds on a daily basis.
There is a computer database for our patients that externs may be trained to search.
Students are expected to participate in daily activities and rounds. They are encouraged to ask questions, contribute ideas and perform medical tasks according to their skill and comfort level.
Students will have direct access to either the head clinical veterinarian, associate veterinarian, or the veterinary intern for the full day on each day of their rotation (Monday-Friday, 8-10 hours per day).
The Marine Mammal Center
2000 Bunker Road
Fort Cronkhite
Sausalito, CA 95965
(415) 289-7327
(415) 289-7333
vanbonnb [at] tmmc [dot] org
Dr. Bil Van Bonn
Updated: 08/02/2012