Students studying in Cornwall have completed an important marine survey in Ireland and gained professional qualifications in animal sound monitoring.
Degree students from Falmouth Marine School headed to Baltimore in West Cork to conduct surveys while viewing porpoises, seals, dolphins and sea birds in their natural environment.
“This trip was really beneficial to the course” said course tutor Duncan Jones, “it gives the students the experience of collecting research out on the water, which is a difficult environment”.
“To be able to do that for a prolonged period over a number of days is really useful as it opens their eyes to that aspect of marine sciences. It will help the students to decide if they want to be an active researcher in the field or lab-based.”
Whilst in Ireland the students had the opportunity to gain a professional qualification with SEICHE’s Passive Acoustic Monitoring course, which involves identifying various species through the sounds they make.
Student Holly Davy was delighted with her additional qualification. She Said: “It’s a life time qualification and great to have on my C.V. alongside my degree. I learnt about the marine mammals and the different sounds they make, so you can identify them whilst surrounded by other species”.
“You can work off -shore on ships and record marine mammals to identify what’s in that area, aiding in sightings and mitigating any damages and disturbance to the mammals in their natural environment”.
Other students had the opportunity to develop their skills in distance sampling, which tutor Duncan said “is another key skill for employability in that area”.
Rhea Walters commented: “I opted for the distance sampling techniques and it was a wonderful opportunity to gain additional field research techniques in another country.
“We spent two days on the boat and visited Baltimore beacon and conducted surveys from the coast, gaining both boat based and coast based survey skills”.
Each evening, students worked on their projects analysing the data they collected and calculating species density for different birds and marine mammals in the area.
Chris Rogers commented: “Dealing with the weather and trying to survey in real world conditions was a really useful experience. The highlight of the trip for me was seeing the guillemots flying across the water then hitting waves, followed by the harbour porpoises swimming under the boat as you don’t usually see them so close”.
Head of Falmouth Marine School Justin Olosunde commented: “These trips are an integral part of the courses at Falmouth Marine School. We pride ourselves in ensuring that our students are ready to enter the professional world with a good understanding of what’s involved in the different career paths. This trip has really giving them an insight into a couple of those areas.”