OBSERVING IRISH MARINE LIFE
By Mackenzie Bodyfelt
Hello, my name is Mackenzie and I am a recent graduate of Oregon State University where I studied Zoology and Marine Biology. After two years of studying over zoom, I rarely got to experience animal science in person. My time as an intern for Sea Synergy has been a tremendous opportunity to gain that essential field experience that drives the passion of animal lovers such as myself. Since I started studying zoology and marine biology I’ve looked forward to spending my days out in the field observing wildlife in their natural habitat. Here in Ireland with Sea Synergy, I have finally gotten to do that!
One of my main projects with Sea Synergy has been marine life surveys. These surveys focus on four different groups of animals: whales and dolphins, seabirds, seals, and the seashore. Once a week we complete a survey for each of those groups, totaling four surveys a week. We hope our datasets will contribute to a better understanding of the seasonal and long-term changes in animals present around Waterville. Records such as the ones we are building here at Sea Synergy and with the Irish National Biodiversity Centre will be crucial in the coming years as biodiversity continues to be impacted by climate change.
The opportunity to observe these amazing creatures has been one of my favourite experiences with Sea Synergy and in Ireland. On any given day I could observe a pod of dolphins feeding and playing in the bay, seals resting with their pups during the low tide, or a flock of terns plunge diving for fish. My favourite experience so far was observing a group of seals fighting over decreasing space on rocks during the rising tide. With very little wind and climbing out on the rocks nearby to get pictures, I could hear them growling at each other and watch them slap each other with their flippers (without much determination or vigour I might add).
I am incredibly excited to continue these surveys during my last 2 weeks with Sea Synergy. It has been an absolute privilege to experience the behaviours of these wild animals in their natural habitat.
All our surveys are citizen science based so please if you would like to join us on any of them just get in touch – we love having people of all ages come out with us!