In The Beginning
The idea for North Wales Seal Research Organisation began way back in 2015 with a group of passionate undergraduate marine biologists at Bangor University in North Wales.
NWSRO founding members Gem and Stef, along with a small group of marine science students and Ben of SeaWatch Foundation and BIAZA, inherited the task of setting up the university’s first marine mammal society from their predecessors and set about the long journey of having it declared an official society, which was eventually achieved in 2015.
The society continued when handed over and enjoyed many successes, including numerous marine science conferences and student training courses in partnership with a number of marine mammal research organisations and charities. Soon an unofficial team was born when Stef and Gem began volunteering to carry out marine mammal surveys along the Anglesey coast with Ben, and all three continued gaining experience as marine mammal medics with British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), a cause all felt committed to and strongly about even to this day. Since that time, all three have remained permanent fixtures in the North Wales marine mammal research and conservation community with a focus on native cetacean and pinniped species.
Over the years, Gem retained her roots in seal conservation and continued to dedicate herself to understanding threats and conservation of seals on the Welsh coast, both as a marine biologist and BDMLR medic, while Ben and Stef also continued to volunteer as BDMLR medics as well as working in whale and dolphin conservation and research. Collectively they now deliver successful BIAZA certified marine mammal survey training courses in the area and undertake their own research projects.
With increasing pollution and higher risk of threats to marine species, the need for a group dedicated to seal conservation in North Wales was becoming increasingly apparent and eventually an unorganised group evolved into the organisation we see today, with the invaluable help and guidance of our fellow seal organisations from around the coast of the UK.
As of August 2020 we became known as NWSRO.
During that time, two new trustees joined Gem, Stef, and Ben, bringing conservation and animal behaviour experience to the team. In 2022, we welcomed Matthew Westfield from Marine Environmental Monitoring (MEM) to the team as a new member of the trustee board as well as a new Education & Outreach Officer, Eleanor Butler who works primarily with Seacoast Safaris, and Felicity Jerams as our new Media and Campaigns Officer. In addition, the team now comprises a team of over 10 amazingly passionate individuals with varying levels of experience, from a number of different sectors and backgrounds; some old friends and colleagues and some new as well as a devoted and experienced steering group and a growing network of hundreds of volunteers along the Welsh coast. Amongst the team exists decades of combined conservation, zoology, and marine science experience as well as technical skills that we utilise throughout our seal projects to help ensure the best education and conservation outcomes.