Our work isn’t always dolphins and rainbows…
A large portion of the cetaceans sightings we collect come from our network of volunteers and the public. We use WhatsApp, Facebook and our websites ‘Report a Sighting’ form to collect public data. Every couple of days, we then collate the data from the different sources and go through all the reported sightings we’ve received. By doing so, we check that two or more reported sightings aren’t for the same individual or group of cetaceans (same species, date, time and location). We then enter the data into our websites sighting spreadsheet. For each sighting, we enter information regarding the observer, date, time, location, species, number of adults and juveniles, behaviour, location, and latitude and longitude. Our spreadsheet is linked to our website, allowing visitors on the website to access all the various cetaceans sightings on the Isle of Man.
More than just doing research and surveys on the cetaceans, a big part of the charity’s work is raising awareness and educating the general public on the amazing cetaceans species that can be found in Manx waters. We regularly hosts public watch events, public talks, evening dinner and drink events! In order to draw attention to these events, we create promotional posters and flyers. These are always quite fun to do, as we get to be very creative and use pretty cetacean pictures that we’ve captured over the years. Once the poster is completed, we get copies printed and take them around Peel and other locations on the Island to be advertised in shops and pubs.
As the day for an event approaches, we start to prepare and organise everything we plan on doing or taking to the event. For fairs, this involves making sure we have all the equipment for our stand – tables and gazebo; informative posters and boards; membership information; kids’ corner and games; as well as items we have for sale such as ID lanyards, cards, posters, and hand-made sea-glass jewellery. Our beloved life-size porpoise, Perkyn, always makes an appearance and boy does he love the attention!
Public communication is a very important aspect of our work at MWDW, specifically the sightings information, images and videos we receive on a daily basis. We try and make sure that every message and email that we receive is replied to promptly, and that we answer any questions you may have about our cetacean species (and any other marine questions, too!) We also love looking through (and replying to) your responses to the videos and images we post!
For those of you who like to know about what we are getting up to in a little more detail, we have our website articles and our volunteers blog (which you are reading right now!) We spend time each week updating our blog with posts about the comings and goings of the charity, and we share some interesting images too. It gives you the chance to get to know us (the Dolphineers) a little better. The articles can be found on our website, and provide insight into the workings of the charity (including work with other organisations) in a more formal way.
In addition to the admin work that we do, we also spend time putting together our membership packs. Each pack is put together with love and care, ready to be delivered to you! And our children’s packs contain fun activities and games, designed and created by us! We make sure that there is something for everyone. If you would like to become a member then head to the ‘Get Involved’ section of our website!
As so many of you send us your photos and videos, we allocate a lot of time to making sure that they are all collated properly and saved for use in our upcoming gallery (watch this space!) We regularly receive beautiful content that you have taken from boats, land and sometimes even the sky! Last month we received a video of Risso’s dolphins displaying a never-before-seen feeding behaviour, which really helped us with our research into their feeding methods. Often we receive images of dorsal fins, which can be used in photographic identification. You all contribute so much to our work!