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Hawai`i Island Response Volunteers

Hawai`i Island Response Volunteers

Each day, Hawaiian monk seals spend a third of their time hauled-out and resting on the beautiful beaches and shoreline of Hawai`i, which is normal and healthy behavior. When a Hawaiian monk seal hauls out on Hawai`i Island, The Marine Mammal Center's Response Volunteers are notified and dispatched to locate the seal.

In partnership with Veterinary staff, volunteers assess the health of the monk seal hauled-out on the beach, but more importantly, assess the beach use. If a Hawaiian monk seal is on a populated beach, Response Volunteers will ensure the public’s safety by educating them about Hawaiian monk seals and The Marine Mammal Center’s work. When deemed necessary by Veterinary staff, Response Volunteers may help transport Hawaiian monk seals to Ke Kai Ola, our Hawaiian monk seal hospital, in Kailua-Kona.

The Response Volunteer fulfills a vital role in continuing our mission of global ocean conservation and educating the public about this charismatic species. The person in this role will need to be alert, physically ready and comfortable engaging the public. This position reports to the Hawaiian Monk Seal Response Manager.

Specific duties

  • Keeping the public safe
  • Locating and identifying Hawaiian monk seals
  • Assessing reported Hawaiian monk seals and beach conditions
  • Educating the public about Hawaiian monk seals and the work of The Marine Mammal Center
  • Maintaining equipment and vehicles
  • Providing public outreach during responses
  • If necessary, rescuing and transporting injured or sick Hawaiian monk seals to Ke Kai Ola under the direction of the Response Manager

Volunteer Shifts

There are three different types of shifts for Response Volunteers.

  • Hawaiian monk seal survey - The Response Volunteer chooses a specific time, day and beach/shoreline, and walks the beach looking for Hawaiian monk seals, reporting any sightings to the Response Manager. While conducting the survey, the Response Volunteer educates the public, including "talking story" and passing out information on the Center's work.
  • Specific day on-call - The Response Volunteer signs up for specific days and times on the response schedule. When a seal is reported, the Response Volunteer is dispatched and expected to respond.
  • General on-call - When a response call is received and there is not a volunteer signed up for that day, all Response Volunteers will receive a text or email. Response Volunteers that are available to respond inform the Response Manager.

Volunteer Characteristics

  • Must be alert and physically capable to work with fast, wild animals
  • Able to walk long distances and carry heavy equipment on sand and difficult terrain
  • Comfortable engaging with the public on the beach during responses
  • Be a team player and work with other volunteers and members of the public of all ages and backgrounds
  • Willing to get dirty and pitch in wherever needed


  • Complete the prospective volunteer screening process, including an application, phone interview, background check and motor vehicle check
  • Attend a New Volunteer Orientation
  • Complete Volunteer Response Training
  • Response volunteers are required to drive so must be at least 21 years of age, have a valid driver's license and be a safe driver with a cleared a Motor Vehicle Report


  • Sign up for at least two shifts per month for a minimum of six months
  • Attend two quarterly Response refresher trainings a year
  • Attend one "End of the Year Review" meeting each year
  • Communicate in a timely manner with the Response Manager

Become a Volunteer!

The first step to becoming a Response Volunteer is to add your name to the interest list

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