Cleaning is extremely important in a marine mammal hospital because, when animals are admitted to the Center, their health is already compromised.
We implement strict sanitary procedures to prevent the spread of disease, prevent infection for wounded animals, and keep bacteria levels down. Volunteers clean the animal pens at least twice a day. Cleaning involves scrubbing the pen floors with a disinfecting solution and cleaning the pools. Pools at the Center are on a filtration system, which constantly filters the pool's water. In addition to this filtration, volunteers will also scoop the pools for fish after each feed. This is done to ensure that the animals are eating and to remove any uneaten fish that might decompose and cause bacteria to form. Volunteers also "vacuum" the pool water to further limit bacterial growth. This involves circulating the pool's water through a specially designing pool vacuum to remove any debris.
In addition to regular pool and pen cleanings, other measures are taken to ensure cleanliness in the hospital. Foot baths are placed outside each pen. The baths contain a mild chlorine concentrate solution (similar to bleach) and upon entering and exiting a pen, volunteers and staff must dip their boots in this bath to kill any germs. Volunteers and staff always wear gloves and protective slickers when entering a pen or working with an animal. After leaving each pen, volunteers scrub down their slickers with a mild bleach solution to kill any germs. Additionally, utensils are cleaned and sterilized after each use; carriers are cleaned and sterilized after transporting animals for rescue, release or weighing; and food preparation areas are sterilized after each use.
By using these techniques we can ensure that our hospital is kept clean, that diseases are not spread from pen to pen and animal to animal, and that animals are not exposed to additional germs or diseases that might impede their recovery.