Organization Policies

Volunteer Requirements

  • All volunteers must be at least eighteen years of age.
  • All volunteers must be permanent residents of Cape Cod or the coastline south of Cape Cod to the Rhode Island border.
  • Must have a valid driver’s license and reliable transportation.
  • Field volunteers should be in good physical condition, able to lift 50lbs and able to swim.
  • New volunteers must attend all of the Stranded Marine Mammal Response Team (SMMRT) trainings and pay the one-time training fee of $25.00 to be activated as a volunteer.        
  • Volunteers  and sign the “IFAW MMRR Volunteer Agreement” to be activated as a volunteer. 
  • Volunteers are responsible for informing IFAW of changes in personal contact information via e-mail to or by calling the office at 508-744-2271.
  • All volunteers are required to attend one training session annually to maintain active status. 


NOTE: Please review the Volunteer Agreement and the Liability Release and Assumption of Risk below. In order to continue with the application, should you wish to apply to become one of our volunteers, you must read and understand these two forms before continuing to fill out the application. If you are accepted as an IFAW Marine Mammal Rescue and  Research Volunteer, you will be required to sign these documents in person once you have completed the introductory trainings.


IFAW Marine Mammal Rescue and Research

Volunteer Agreement


Volunteer Status.  I understand that, as a volunteer, I shall not receive any compensation whatsoever (including wages, salaries, benefits, unemployment insurance, workers compensation insurance or medical insurance) for my participation with IFAW’s Marine Mammal Rescue and Research Program (IFAW MMRR).


Maintaining Active Status.  IFAW MMRR requires all volunteers to attend at least one training session per calendar year in order to maintain active status.  Each year, IFAW modifies and creates protocols to better our supportive care techniques, data collection and human safety.  It is thus extremely important that each of our volunteers remains current with such protocols in order to best care for the animals, represent the goals and mission of the program and, most importantly, to do so in the safest manner possible.  Failure to attend a training once per calendar year will result in removal from IFAW MMRR’s active volunteer list.


Representing IFAW. As an IFAW MMRR volunteer, you are representing IFAW when you respond.  Please, speak respectfully about IFAW staff and IFAW’s work, and be respectful to the public, IFAW staff and other IFAW participants. Respect your audience and do not use obscenities, personal insults, ethnic slurs or other disparaging language to express yourself. Please, act in a way according to that instructed and dictated by IFAW MMRR when you are responding on behalf of IFAW MMRR.  Be aware that when you are responding on behalf of IFAW MMRR, you may be allowed in a position that the public is not both legally and for the public’s safety.


Code of Conduct.  As a selected IFAW MMRR volunteer, we expect volunteers to be respectful to the public, IFAW staff and other IFAW participants.  Volunteers should follow staff instructions and directions and direct questions to IFAW MMRR staff.  When responding for IFAW MMRR, volunteers will employ response techniques that were trained and instructed by IFAW MMRR staff.  Failure to operate within IFAW MMRR’s code of conduct will result in a verbal or written warning. Multiple warnings may result in removal from IFAW MMRR’s active volunteer list.

IFAW MMRR volunteers will not use or possess drugs (including prescription medications which could impair my ability to participate in the MMRR), alcoholic, controlled substances or firearms while participating in an MMRR response.

IFAW MMRR volunteers are expected to obey all traffic rules and regulations when driving to or from a stranding and also when traveling with rescue transport caravan. Responding for IFAW MMRR does not give you permission to violate parking laws; you are subject to all such laws and the penalties associated with their violation. 


Photography and Social Media. IFAW requests that persons actively involved in a stranding response do not take personal photos. IFAW is permitted to conduct response activities through NOAA and responding IFAW MMRR volunteers are afforded access through these situations that persons would otherwise not be allowed.  Any photos obtained are allowed only for personal use. No photos or video shall be shared or reproduced without prior approval by IFAW staff. IFAW has rights to photographs taken under IFAW’s NOAA permit.

Social media or technology includes, but is not limited to, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms, personal blogs or other similar forms of online journals, diaries or personal electronic newsletters not affiliated with IFAW.  Do not post photos or videos without prior IFAW staff approval. Do not post where or when a stranding response is occurring.


Ownership of Information and Other Assets: IFAW will have the right to request, receive and use existing pictures, video and other information, or to capture these stories of animals/communities benefiting from IFAW’s support to the Program. Such pictures, video and information may be used in fundraising appeals to IFAW supporters around the world, the proceeds of which will be utilized by IFAW without restriction. By signing this agreement, volunteers agree to share with IFAW photos, videos and stories documented during collaborative responses and those photos and/or videos will have shared usage with IFAW copyright ©IFAW/volunteer’s name (first initial, last name).

IFAW volunteers shall not use, disclose, or publish on the Internet, TV, radio, print or any other medium any information including photos, video and other assets pertaining to MMRR without prior written IFAW approval either during or subsequent to the term of MMRR. The one and only exception is that IFAW volunteers may use the information during the term of MMRR to the extent and only to the extent necessary to perform the Goals and Objectives of MMRR. All information pertaining to MMRR including photos, video and other assets captured during the volunteer term shall at all times be and remain the property of IFAW.



IFAW Marine Mammal Rescue and Research

Liability Release and Assumption of Risk


Participation in the IFAW Marine Mammal Rescue and Research program is a HAZARDOUS AND POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS ACTIVITY (See List of Considerations). This Agreement prevents the bringing of a claim against IFAW or the IFAW Group (as defined below) in the event of death or injury and clarifies ownership and confidentiality of information and audiovisual assets gathered during a rescue or research event.


            As a condition to, and in consideration of, being permitted to participate in the International Fund for Animal Welfare Inc. (hereafter referred to as IFAW) Marine Mammal Rescue program (MMRR), the undersigned represents, acknowledges and agrees as follows, all for the benefit of IFAW and its affiliates in all forums, and their respective shareholders, members, directors, trustees, officers, employees, agents, representatives, insurers, successors and assigns (collectively, the “IFAW Group”).


            Fitness to Participate.  I represent and verify that I am at least eighteen (18) years old, in good health, and aware of no physical problem or condition that will impair my ability to participate in Marine Mammal Rescue. I acknowledge and understand that IFAW is NOT in any way responsible for determining whether I am fit to participate in this program.  I further represent that I will not use or possess drugs (including prescription medications which could impair my ability to participate in the MMRR), alcoholic, controlled substances or firearms while participating in the MMRR.

            I understand that, prior to participating in the MMRR, it is recommended that I have a complete medical examination with a qualified physician, and discuss with them the administration of such vaccinations for Hepatitis B, Tetanus and Rabies and other medical treatment as such qualified physician may deem necessary or advisable prior to or subsequent to the handling of marine mammals. I further understand that wounds inflicted by seals may require the use of Tetracycline and that persons allergic to Tetracycline should not have contact with live or dead marine mammals.


            Assumption of Risk.  I understand that participation in the MMRR involves a HIGH DEGREE OF RISK OF SERIOUS INJURY TO MY PERSON AND/OR DEATH and INJURY TO AND DESTRUCTION OF my property. These risks may include, but are not limited to: strenuous physical activity and contact with marine mammals, who can be violent, carry disease and otherwise cause injury.  I am voluntarily participating in the MMRR, with full knowledge and appreciation of this risk, and I understand and duly accept the potentially inherent dangers associated with the MMRR.


Medical Treatment.  I give IFAW the right, in its sole discretion, but without any obligation to do so, to seek, authorize or approve medical treatment on my behalf, in the event that I am unable to so; and I agree to pay or reimburse IFAW for all costs associated with such medical treatment. No member of the IFAW Group shall be liable for the failure to seek or approve such medical treatment or for any damage, loss or injury resulting from any medical treatment provided on my behalf.


Insurance. I understand that IFAW does not carry or maintain health, medical, disability or life insurance coverage for any participant. Each participant is expected and encouraged to obtain his or her own health, medical, disability or life insurance coverage.

IFAW MMRR volunteers are not covered by any IFAW insurance when operating any IFAW vehicle or equipment.


Release of Liability.  On behalf of myself and my family members, companions, dependents, executors, administrators, heirs, assigns and representatives (collectively, the “Releasors”), I hereby release, discharge and hold harmless all members of the IFAW Group from all damages, losses, injuries, liabilities, claims, demands and causes of action for personal injury, death or damage to personal property (“Claims”), in each case suffered by me, by any Releasor or by any other person, arising from or occurring in connection with my participation or the participation of any other party or person in the MMRR, including, without limitation, injury, death or damage caused in whole or in part by the negligence or wrongdoing of any member of the IFAW Group, and any injury, death or damage arising out of any medical treatment or first aid provided or procured by IFAW.  I agree that neither I nor any of other Releasor will ever assert in any forum any such Claim, and I shall indemnify and hold harmless all members of the IFAW Group from and against any such Claim (including reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in defending such a Claim of any nature) brought against them by me or any Releasor. 


Applicable Law; Jurisdiction; Etc..  This IFAW Liability Release and Assumption of Risk is governed by the substantive laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as if executed and to be formed in Massachusetts, without regard to conflict of law principles. I agree that all disputes arising under, in connection with or incident to, or related in any way to the MMRR or to this IFAW Liability Release and Assumption of Risk shall be litigated, if at all, in a state or federal court sitting in Massachusetts and I consent to the exclusive jurisdiction of such courts and waive, to the fullest extent permitted by law, any objection to the laying of the venue or that any such dispute has been brought in an inconvenient forum. If any provision contained in this IFAW Liability Release and Assumption of Risk shall be deemed invalid or unenforceable in whole or in part, this IFAW Liability Release and Assumption of Risk shall be enforced to the fullest extent allowed by law.


Confidentiality of Information. IFAW agrees to keep, and to ensure that its employees, subcontractors, and volunteers keep, confidential all materials and information that are provided by IFAW in connection with their performance under MMRR and that are not available to the general public, including without limitation, financial information, and information and materials about the other party’s or its affiliates’ operations, campaigns, and strategic and tactical plans. 


            Miscellaneous.  I represent to IFAW that I have advised my family members, companions and dependents of my participation in the IFAW MMRR, of the risks associated with such participation, and that I have assumed all such risks and released IFAW from any liability pertaining to such risks.

            This document contains all of the agreements of the parties with respect to the subject matter hereof and supersedes all prior dealings of any nature between them with respect to such subject matter.



List of considerations:

  • Strenuous activity: heavy lifting, walking in difficult terrain, operating for long hours, etc.
  • Durations outdoors in adverse environmental and weather conditions: cold, wind, heat, sun, etc.
  • Operation in remote areas and in dangerous terrain: ice, rocks, mud, areas of tidal change, shallow water drop-offs, surfzone waves, areas with limited cell phone reception, areas without vehicle access, etc.
  • Possible exposure to zoonotic diseases via live or dead animals or handling contaminated gear, tools, or equipment
    • Persons working around or with animals are often recommended by their physicians to be vaccinated against rabies, tetanus and Hepatitis B
  • Possible physical injury, exertion, dehydration
  • Operating around heavy machinery: response vehicles and trailers, ATV, overhead crane/hoist systems, excavators, etc.
  • Operating on boats in coastal waters and wading in nearshore waters with a PFD on
  • Animal handing: thrashing, bites, heavy lifting, zoonoses transmission
  • Handling and operating around sharp objects: teeth, knives, needles, scalpels, hooks, etc.
  • Other wildlife interactions: birds, coyotes, sharks, etc.
  • Physical hazards: trip hazards, overhead hazards
  • Hazardous materials and chemical exposure: animal treatment medications, sample storage solutions, cleaning and disinfecting agents, etc.
  • Persons who are immunocompromised, pregnant or breastfeeding are advised against handling animals (live or dead) and/or handling animal-soiled materials.





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