BRUNSWICK, Maine — Editor's note 12/1/21: Click here to vote for Lynda Doughty as CNN's Hero of the Year.
The founder of a Maine nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating marine mammals and sea turtles has been nominated as one of the 2021 "CNN Heroes."
Doughty's story was featured on CNN Heroes before the coronavirus pandemic, but the program was suspended due to the pandemic. Voting for the winner will begin in the later half of 2021.
MMoME the only organization in southern and midcoast Maine federally authorized to carry out this kind of work, according to Doughty.
Two staff members and a team of volunteers respond to seal and sea life strandings along roughly 2,500 miles of Maine coastline.
The facility is built to rehabilitate seals and seal pups until they are ready and healthy enough to return to the wild. Members of the public can call the MMoME hotline to report a hurt or stranded animal.
"Any seal that we rescue, the ultimate goal is for that animal to be released back into the wild," Doughty told CNN.
Early summer is the busiest time of year for MMoME due to the increase of beachgoers.
A GoFundMe fundraiser has been established to support the work being done at MMoME. They hope to raise $50,000 to further conservation efforts and increase the rehab capacity in the Northeast.
"I feel this intense responsibility to help these animals," Doughty said. "And really, this is what I was put on this Earth to do."