3-Minute Interview: Timothy Vogel

The volunteer docent for The Marine Mammal Center teaches visitors about the sea lions at Pier 39. The center is seeking new volunteers.

What do you do as a docent? I set up a station with my telescope, a couple pairs of binoculars and some specimens, like a skull, some whiskers and some examples of their fur.

Do many people come to you for advice? The telescope has a tendency to bring people in because they want to look at the animals closer. Before you know it, you’ve got a crowd of people standing around, listening and asking questions.

What questions do they ask? What do they eat? How long do they live? Are they all family members?

What are the answers to those questions? They eat almost anything that swims or crawls like crabs, squid and fish. Males live maybe 15 years; females maybe up to 20 years. They’re almost never all family members.

How busy are you when you volunteer as a docent? I’d say it averages out to be over 100 questions an afternoon. There’s probably people from at least 20 different states in the U.S. and I talk to people from at least ten different countries.

Why do you volunteer as a docent? I used to be a marine biologist in the Florida Cays and I’m still active as a scientist. Instead of playing golf on the weekends, I like to teach marine mammalogy.

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