KEY LARGO, Florida Keys – Several Key Largo hotels are offering reduced-rate accommodations for visitors who want to join round-the-clock efforts to rehabilitate three surviving pilot whales convalescing at the Florida Keys–based Marine Mammal Conservancy.
The “voluntourism” initiative is being aided with specially priced $69 (plus tax) per night rooms for visitors who sign up as volunteers.
When the traveler completes at least one four-hour shift, MMC representatives will award the traveler a voucher. The voucher is good for the traveler’s stay for up to five days Sunday night through Thursday night, and must be presented to the hotel in order to receive the special rate.
The reduced-rate program is focused on weekdays, because that is when the need for manpower is greatest. Visitors arriving in Key Largo for the volunteer effort are encouraged to sign up for multiple shifts.
As many as 20 volunteers are needed per four-hour shift to assist with a wide range of activities at MMC, located at mile marker 102.1 bayside. Volunteers help with everything from actually being in the water to support the whales (must be 18 or older), to land-based tasks such as answering phones. Shore duties can be performed by teens under 18.
The following Key Largo hotels are part of the program:
Bayside Inn www.baysidekeylargo.com 305-451-4450
Bay Cove Motel www.baycovemotel.com 305-451-1686
Boatel www.keylargohouseboat.com 305-766-0871
Key West Inn www.supertelinns.com 305-451-5081
Marina del Mar www.marinadelmarkeylargo.com 305-451-4107
The accommodations list also is available at www.fla-keys.com/volunteer and more properties may be added in the future.
Holiday blackout dates for the special rate include Sunday, July 3, and Sunday, Sept. 3. Advance reservations are required, and the lodging property must be advised that guests are planning to volunteer.
The three whales were transferred to MMC in a temperature-controlled Publix Super Markets semitrailer several days after they survived a May 5 stranding off the Lower Keys.
To learn more about becoming a Marine Mammal Conservancy volunteer, visit www.marinemammalconservancy.org or call 305-451-4774.
Click here to read one volunteer’s experience with the pilot whales.