(April 17, 2022) --

Volunteers are an asset to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. They help to educate our aquarium visitors and keep our campus looking its best. Several also take part in our citizen science programs. Around 30 volunteers lend a hand throughout the year, and some are seasonal snowbirds.

We’re excited to have our docent/volunteers back in the Alabama Aquarium teaching our visitors about horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs, and more. Concerns about COVID-19 shut down the Docent/Volunteer Program in March of 2020. We were excited to bring our docents back to the aquarium in June of 2021. 

Our longest volunteering docent is Dominick Matranga with 21 years. He was first in line when the docent program came back online after COVID. He has since retired from volunteering. 

On the first Saturday of the month, you may spot Brandi and Cheyne Snell. Brandi is also active in the Manatee Sighting Network, the CAMEO Program, and on the road with Discovery Hall Program outreach events. 

Kathryne Twilley is another docent you may meet on your visit to the aquarium. If you see her, you can ask for more information on Share the Beach as she volunteers with them as well. 

Lorene Lami leads our team of gardeners. They meet on the first Thursday of each month. Lami is our Master Gardener and has been volunteering since September 2015. She’s also a docent/volunteer and helps with the Town of Dauphin Island plant sales and gardening at the Dauphin Island Welcome Center. 

Susan Dubey is another one of our dedicated gardeners and docents. She’s been lending a hand since June of 2014 and is a great community helper.

Our Marine Mammal Research Program currently has about 40 active volunteers.  They assist with stranding response, necropsy (animal autopsy), and outreach activities.  Stranding response is unpredictable, but our team typically responds to 40-50 cetacean and manatee strandings a year and often uses volunteers to help monitor animals in distress, confirm stranding locations, or assist with carcass recovery, data and sample collection, and cleaning.  

This team of volunteers also helps spread awareness for the Marine Mammal Research Program by sharing information with their friends and neighbors and participating in outreach events like local boat shows and other community events. Events are great opportunities to distribute educational materials to the public and share information about local marine mammals.

This is only a snapshot of some of our amazing volunteers, and we thank each of them for their dedication. 

Happy National Volunteer Week!