Day 3 brought a world of new challenges. We headed out on the boat at 9:00am, just after finishing a cup of coffee. We set course for a set of rocks that were the home of a very friendly seal colony. Or so I thought.
Below are images of the seals we observed on the boat. We paired up and took turns observing different seals in the colony. The goal of this was to see if seals pay more attention when they are on the outside of the colony, as compared to the middle. We also noted the sea state, the approximate age of the seals, and how many seals were near them.
This study was important because it provides an insight into seal behavior. From here, scientists can increase knowledge on seal vigilance throughout seal colonies.
The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent at lectures, but because I had attended those lectures with my professor at my own university, I was able to go work on my mini project instead. Each student had to participate in a group of two to three to research something on the Isle of Cumbrae. I had decided to hand out graduate student Chelsea Gray's Basking shark survey. Gray is studying public perception of Basking sharks in Ireland, in hopes that Malin Head will pursue establishing a wildlife center that highlights several animals- including Basking sharks.
In order to do this, I made copies of Gray's survey and planned out a few afternoons and evenings to walk into town and ask complete strangers to answer questions like "what do Basking sharks eat?" or "have you ever seen a basking shark?". The idea is to gauge how the public feels about basking sharks, and to see what people know and what they don't know.
This evening in particular, I went out to survey people in town.