Tag Archives: Wildlife

Isle of Wight Marine Mammal Survey

One of the things I was super keen to do this summer was get out to explore the waters around the Isle of Wight. There have been several media reports of dolphins and seals around the island. Locals tell me they often see porpoises relatively close to shore. Plus there are even some potential whale sightings.

The plan was to spend a couple of weeks living out on the island with some student volunteers, visiting two cliff-top vantage points to keep watch for marine mammals. Throughout the summer, we were also planning to take the lovely new IMS research vessel Noctiluca out for some boat-based surveys.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 seems to have other ideas regarding my dreams of a field season…

But this doesn’t mean that research has to stop! Instead, my MSc student Robyne Castles has developed an online questionnaire to collect some local knowledge about marine mammal occurrence around the Isle of Wight:

https://bit.ly/iowmarinemammals

The questionnaire asks when and where people have seen marine mammals in the past, along with any details about the species, behaviour, and time spent in the area. Although we’d obviously love to collect as much information as possible, every little bit helps!

IoW Grid Map

This gridded map helps people identify where they saw a marine mammal. For example, square G3 for sightings near Ryde. 

Marine mammals play an important role in the ecosystem, but also face many threats to their survival. So it is important to understand where and when these animals are occurring around the Isle of Wight and the Solent. We know that harbour porpoises, bottlenose dolphins, harbour seals and grey seals use this area – but otherwise, our information is pretty limited.

By using local knowledge to create a map of historic marine mammal sightings, we will know how to best focus our future research efforts. This online survey is a crucial first step in developing a broader research program to study marine mammal ecology in this area.

So when we are eventually allowed back out on the water, we’ll know exactly where to go!

 

New Video: The Dolphin and the Sound

As you know, I’m fortunate enough to be sister to the amazing wildlife film-maker Lisa Marley.  I’ve written about her documentary on Scottish raptor poisonings here previously (and incidentally, this work is currently touring the film festivals – scroll to the end for details!).  But in June, we actually worked together on a short film project as part of the Aquatic Noise 2016 conference I attended in Dublin.

The conference held a public evening involving short lectures around the theme of underwater noise, and also invited submission of videos on this topic.  Lisa and I worked together to create a short film describing the effects of human noise on coastal dolphins, similar to the idea of my 3MT speech – but with much cooler visuals than just me standing on a stage!

I wonder if anyone recognises the locations involved in this production?  Suggestions on a postcard please…!

So now I have a professional video to highlight my research AND had the awesome experience of working on a creative project with my sister.  And all without a single sibling squabble to be seen!


“Red Sky on the Black Isle” lastest screenings:

  • Hebrides International Film Festival (on Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra; UK):  14-17 September 2016
  • Aberdeen Film Festival (UK):  17 October 2016
  • Festival de Menigoute (France):  27 October 2016

Follow the film’s Facebook page for more updates!