The sessions on the Sakhalin: Man and the Sea project, implemented by the Sakhalin Oblast Public Organization Club Boomerang, with the support of Sakhalin Energy within the framework of the Social Initiatives Fund “Energy”, were completed. Practical trainings took place on the territory of the Vavai Lakes of the Sakhalin Region under the supervision of international experts for the rescue of marine mammals David Matilla and Brian Sharp.
The Sakhalin: Man and the Sea Project is Russia's first experience in organizing systemic work to save marine mammals, which includes both educational work and the organization of a marine mammal group consisting of volunteers, professional rescuers and veterinarians, and the formation of a coordinating council of assistance to marine mammals.
Over four days the representatives of environmental ministries, rescuers, veterinarians, the personnel of the protected environmental zones and oil companies, and members of the volunteer team from the Boomerang Club took part in the workshops and trainings dedicated to marine mammals rescue. The activities were led by David Matilla, an IWC expert, and Brian Sharp, an IFAW expert. This was preceded by three months of lectures and introductory excursions, as well as the formation of a team of volunteers-rescuers of marine mammals, which included people of different ages and occupations.
About 60 people took part in the initial training program for the rescue of marine mammals. Volunteers got acquainted with the biology of marine mammals, received skills in assisting marine animals on land and affected by fishing nets and plastics, and studied safety rules for rescue operations. "It's necessary," says David Matilla, "because often when people want to help, they can do it wrong and thereby harm both the animal and the person."
The participants of the project will continue their learning process in future. Exercises for the volunteers will be organised with participation of experts from Moscow and Vladivostok, and a programme of educational events will be held in various districts of Sakhalin Oblast in order to engage local people in the activities of the crisis response team with the Cetaceans and Pinnipedia species. All this extensive programme of actions will be carried out as part of preparations for the joint marine mammals rescue exercise that is scheduled for the autumn of 2017.