Wednesday, January 20, 2021

NECWA Intern David Madden

Hello! I am an undergraduate student at Bridgewater State University, and am pursuing a Biology major, as well as a Music minor. I discovered NECWA through my University and have been working as a field research intern starting in November. With NECWA, I have had the opportunity of working with various types of marine wildlife that strand along the shores of Cape Cod. On some occasions, I have walked beaches looking to locate and rescue stranded cold stunned sea turtles in collaboration with Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellfleet, MA. At other times, my walks have focused on finding and necropsying Western Atlantic torpedo rays and ocean sunfish. I have also been involved in a number of sea bird rescues that also occur this time of the year.

David Madden at Paine's Creek, Brewster, MA

A new project that NECWA initiated this stranding season was focused on the Western Atlantic Torpedo, an electric ray found in the waters off of the Cape. Each fall and early winter, torpedo rays, have been found to strand primarily along the northern shores of Cape Cod. This year, NECWA was able to document 41 torpedo ray carcasses washed up along a 1.3 mile stretch of beach on Long Point, Provincetown. The cause of this mass stranding is unknown and currently under investigation.

David on Great Island, 1/16/21 looking for wildlife in need.

NECWA has given me a unique opportunity to experience wildlife that many New England natives may never see, and some may not even known about. Living off Cape makes it difficult to access many of these beaches where strandings occur, but it is important to make the effort to drive down to these areas. I find ocean sunfish to be absolutely fascinating animals. Their strange biology and morphology is incredible to experience up close. Being able to perform necropsies, animal autopsies, and learn first hand about the inner workings of these animals is also a joy.

David documenting a torpedo ray on Long Point, Provincetown.

I adore marine wildlife and have always felt very lucky to live in a place with such a diverse wildlife and a complex ecology. I have spent much of my time on the Cape for recreational purposes with friends and family. I find it a privilege to now to have a purpose for my actions by assisting with marine wildlife rescues and research with NECWA. Thanks to NECWA I have had the opportunity to study these animals up close and to develop skills useful for my career goals in the field of marine science. After graduation I would like to have a career that is focused on conservation biology and the study of marine life in the waters of New England.

David recording data on a torpedo ray

For anyone interested in learning more about Bridgewater State Universities Biology Program, click HERE. To learn more about NECWA's internship program, click HERE.