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Tiffany Rogerson- Marine Mammal Medic

Updated: May 6, 2021

Tiff is a Landscape Conservation Assistant in Essex and also volunteers as a Marine Mammal Medic for BDMLR! Tiff has worked for ORCA to educate people all about amazing marine mammals and has seen some beautiful creatures during her time at sea!

Short bio about yourself and your career:

I am 33, have lived in Essex all my life and am now currently working for Essex Wildlife Trust as a Landscape Conservation Assistant for the South East of Essex. I have done quite a lot of travelling around Asia, Australia & New Zealand and this was when I discovered my passion for wildlife conservation. I graduated from University with a psychology degree and after travelling decided that I wanted to get more involved in conservation. I worked in my local aquarium as a Talks Host which was great fun, before undertaking a Marine Mammal Surveyor course with ORCA (Whale & dolphin conservation charity based in Portsmouth). When a Wildlife Office job came up with ORCA, I jumped at the chance. This job gave me the opportunity to show people whales and dolphins on board a ferry and to engage with both adults and children about conservation through talks and activities. I then joined EWT as an Administrator at Head Office, which helped give me a solid understanding of the Trust and also allowed me to help the conservation team with projects also. I then landed my current role within EWT and am still here over 2 years later!

How did you become a marine medic?

I have a huge passion for marine life and wanted to get involved with as many marine related organisations as possible. I heard about British Divers Marine Life Rescue whilst working for ORCA and immediately signed up for their Marine Mammal Medic course. This is a one day course with both a theory and a practical session, where you learn how to undertake a rescue of a seal, whale and dolphin using inflatable life-like models, which is great fun! The courses run each year in Essex and costs £90. From this, I became the Assistant Co-ordinator in Essex for BDMLR (voluntarily) and help to deliver training courses for new medics, as well as raising funds for equipment and running stalls at events to raise awareness of the work that BDMLR does.

What does being a marine medic entail?

You can be as involved as much or as little as you want as a medic and there is no pressure to attend a rescue call out if you are unable to. There are around 900+ trained medics now around the UK and you don`t have to be a diver to get involved. The training course provides all the knowledge and rescue techniques that you need to become a medic and to confidentially help a marine mammal in distress. Once you have done the course, a handbook is provided which has a list of recommended equipment to keep in you car, in a grab bag so that you are fully prepared to attend a call out. You are then added to the medic database and will receive a text message if there is a rescue needed in your local area. If you are able to attend, the hotline coordinator will give you more information and will guide you through the rescue. It is a great way to meet new people and a fantastic community of passionate volunteers.

Please highlight a conservation issue you are particularly involved in:

Seal disturbance is a significant issue that BDMLR faces throughout the UK and one of the biggest threats that seals in this country face. With more and more people using the sea for recreational purposes and more people visiting our coastlines, this can have a detrimental impact on seals that are hauled out and resting. Seals look very cute and friendly which can lead to people getting too close and therefore scaring the seal back into the sea. Seals haul out as they need to rest, regulate their body temperature, socialise, digest their food or suckle their young. If seals are scared into the sea, this can cause huge amounts of stress, wasted energy and also injuries, as well as potentially leading to a mum abandoning her pup. Repeated disturbance can also lead the seal/s abandoning the area completely and finding a new haul out spot. Dog attacks on seals is also becoming more and more common as seals are incredibly vulnerable when hauled out on land, especially in places that easily accessible by the public. Although they may look cute and friendly, seals are wild animals and have a nasty bite which can easily lead to infection!

What can people do you help with this issue?

There are lots of things you can do to help with this issue:

  • Keep dogs under control or on a lead when near to resting seals

  • Take litter home and dispose of fishing gear carefully- to stop ingestion or entanglement

  • Keep a distance from seals

  • Call the BDMLR hotline if a seal is in distress or injured- 01825 765546

  • Take photos from a distance

  • Don`t feed the seal

  • Tell other people how they can help protect our beautiful seals

What is your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement would have to be gaining a first class honours in my degree and then working hard to change my career path and become involved in wildlife conservation and to be in a job that I love.

What is your favourite species?

My favourite species would have to be the beaked whales. There are approximately 22 species of beaked whales and there is still a lot to learn about this species as they are very elusive, deep divers and spend little time at the surface. Not a lot of people have even heard of them and they are very peculiar looking! The Cuvier’s beaked whale can dive down to a staggering 3,000 metres and stay under water for over 3 hours! They are the deepest diving marine mammal in the world and as a diver, I find it incredible how well their bodies are adapted to diving that deep! I had some fantastic sightings of these squid-eating species in the Bay of Biscay whilst working as a Wildlife Officer and they will always hold a special place in my heart!

What advice do you have for people wanting to become a marine medic or working with marine species?

I would say that going on courses and volunteering is a great way to show that you are keen and passionate to get involved with marine species. You will also enhance your knowledge and skills and make connections with lots of people and who knows what exciting opportunities that could lead to!

Find out more about how to become a marine mammal medic below:

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