Friday, January 14, 2011

A Tribute to our NECWA 2010 Interns

We would like to take a moment to thank our 2010 NECWA Interns for all their help this season.

A big thank you to our 2010 interns including: Tammy, Nick, Dominica, Theo, Shaya, Kelly, Michael, Caitlyn, Tiffany, Mary, Patty. Tobias and Bob.

Each season, NECWA works with close to a dozen interns who come from all backgrounds and walks of life. Most are college students, but a few are high school students or professionals in the community. Many volunteer onboard the Captain John Whale Watching boats, helping naturalists collect sighting and photographic data on the whales and other unique coastal marine wildlife that are sighted from the boat.

Once our interns learn how to collect their sighting and photographic data, the next step is working with Krill to learn how to analyze that data. NECWA interns work one-on-one with Krill learning how to identify individual humpback whales through the photographs that they collect.

As interns analyze their data, they learn quickly that this part of the work is not as much fun as watching the whales offshore. But it is an essential part of the research and if we are to help protect and conserve our humpback population.

NECWA shares all their data with the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies (PCCS) in an effort to collaborate with other organizations and institutions. Collecting data for the sake of "the data" doesn't make sense and it doesn't help the animals that we have come to know and love.

Collaboration is the key to making a difference on this planet for whales, seabirds, seals, basking sharks, ocean sunfish and other coastal marine wildlife. And it is essential for our own survival, flesh and spirit. PCCS shares this data with Allied Whale, the non-profit located in Maine and that maintains the definitive humpback whale catalog for the Gulf of Maine.

But there are many other activities and projects that are NECWA interns are involved with. Many help us with educational presentations to school groups and family groups within the community. And often, interns help with field-based activities including beach cleanup efforts and stranding responses for live and dead animals.

Each fall, NECWA responds to dozens of reports of dead and live ocean sunfish that strand along the shores of Cape Cod. We are still not sure why ocean sunfish strand each fall, but many feel that these large pelagic fish are not able to withstand the cold temperatures experienced as winter approaches.

In the past, only college level students and professionals were accepted as interns in our annual program. But a few years ago, we decided to accept a high school student from Plymouth who came highly recommended. And that is how NECWA was very fortunate to work with Nick Schomburg who quickly became one of our most important and valuable members.

Nick has helped with almost every aspect of NECWA including necropsies, data collection offshore, web design, helping to create educational material and helping with festivals and educational programs. Presently, Nick is a Junior at Plymouth South High School and is focusing in web design.

Nick has exceeded all our expectations and his help over the years has been invaluable. We know he will continue to achieve amazing things. Thank you for all your help and dedication Nick. You are one of the reasons that NECWA is able to accomplish so much each year.

Thank you to all our interns who volunteered with us during 2010. We were very fortunate to have a wonderful group of people working with us over the course of the season. We hope you enjoyed your time with us and with the whales, seals, sunfish, seabirds and other marine wildlife that we are all so fortunate to connect with in the New England area. And we hope you will continue to work with us in the future and that your lives will be filled with exciting and precious moments in Nature.