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The Coast Guard and Environmental Protection

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2013) Permanent link   All Posts
 Julie Kane Recently I had a really cool opportunity; I got to help try to save a beluga whale! One of the whales over at the Mystic Aquarium (rest in peace – no, it was not something I did) was having kidney problems and the Aquarium needed volunteers to hold the whale still while the veterinarian took blood samples and administered the medicine. I thought, “How many people can say that they’re held a beluga whale?”, so I signed up and very early one bright March morning, my friend Lauren and I dragged ourselves out of bed and down to the van waiting outside the archways. When we got to the Aquarium, the vet gave us a run down of what we needed to do and we put on the dry suits and Neoprene gloves.

We went to one of the tanks out back and climbed down into the water with the whale (it was only about 3 feet deep). My job was to hold the tail above the water with a member of the Coast Guard Reserve so that they could take a blood sample. I’d never touched a whale before. He felt kind of firm and rubbery, and when I got close enough I could actually see spidery purple veins through his white skin. Being that close to the whale was an amazing experience alone, but I also had the pleasure of talking to the Reservist.

He was from Long Island and was one of the people who responds when animals become stranded on the beaches. His passion for the animals that he saves was incredible, and he was telling me about how glad he was to see cadets concerned about animals and the environment. Often, people focus on the law enforcement and search and rescue missions of the Coast Guard because that’s where most of the action and glory is, but environmental protection is also a really important core mission. Talking to him gave me more of an appreciation for Coast Guard Reservists, because they really love what they do and are truly dedicated to their missions. Helping out at the Aquarium was a very different experience from what I’m used to, and it was completely worth waking up a couple of hours early.

More about Julie.