Jack, a 21-year-old Biological Sciences student at Cardiff University, introduces himself hiding a little smirk. He knows that I am going to ask him about Monk Seals and the bad luck he’s known for having when it comes to spotting them…
He is one of our long-term interns who arrived in August 2018 for his placement year, and has been working on the Marine Mammal team for six months. The team, mainly composed of students working towards degrees in marine sciences, biological sciences and marine conservation, takes part in surveys on cetaceans such as bottlenose and common dolphins, sperm whales, sea turtles and the Mediterranean Monk Seal.
The work of the team aims to provide legislators, authorities and the local community with up-to-date data and information to enhance these species’ protection, as well as continuing to protect and map cetaceans in the north eastern Mediterranean Sea. With his departure scheduled for July, Jack is quite happy with the projects he has been part of, which have mainly been focused on the Mediterranean Monk Seal.
Very sadly, this species represents one of the most endangered marine mammals on the planet, with around 600 specimen left in our seas – mainly in the North-Eastern Aegean and the Mediterranean. The aim of this study is to monitor the presence, abundance and behaviour of Monk Seals in South Eastern Samos, in order to assess whether the habitats of the region is well-suited to their needs.
Jack assists Archipelagos staff in the coordination of other marine mammal team interns, as well as volunteers from other teams who might be interested in helping on surveys and widening their breadth of knowledge in conservation.
With the help of volunteers from the team, Jack carries out multiple roles, some being more dependent on the season than others.
During the warmer months he focuses on using GIS mapping skills to record habitats in the water, takes part in boat surveys and also contributes to land surveys.
During the cooler months, where there is less boat activity due to the unpredictable weather conditions, he has recently been writing up data from the monk seal surveys and joins boat surveys when the weather allows it. These activities allowed him to acquire some knowledge of QGIS, become familiar with different survey techniques and improve his organisational skills.
During the remaining five months of his internship he plans on bringing the current phase of the Monk Seal project to an end (or, at least, near its end) and helping with the rest of the Marine Mammal team.