OMMRI Chair and Volunteer Education and Outreach Officer
After moving to Orkney three years ago Karen became involved with shore based surveys for Seawatch Foundation’s Orca watches and, in addition to taking part in the surveys, has led public watches for the charity.
“Most people know that Orca are often seen in Orkney waters but there are so many other species here and none of them have been researched and documented. Risso’s Dolphin is one species that really appeals to me. They seem to be resident but the fact is we don’t really know for sure. So we decided to find out for ourselves”.
She has always had a keen interest in seals but her interest in cetaceans has grown the more she’s learned about them. As a Veterinary Nurse, Karen’s background is Veterinary Science so she is fascinated by the physiology of marine mammals and how they ‘work’. As she is not currently working in veterinary practice, researching the diseases that affect them and how healthy Orkney’s marine mammal populations are makes up a large part of her interest in the work that OMMRI has planned.
OMMRI Treasurer and Volunteer Science & Conservation Officer
Emma has been obsessed with all things marine from an early age and could usually be found poking around a rockpool or investigating the tideline on holidays to the coast as a child. Following an trip across the Bay of Biscay in 2003, she volunteered as a researcher with the charity MARINElife. This led to Emma working for the charity from 2006 to 2010 as a wildlife officer and wildlife guide for MARINElife on the P&O ferry Pride of Bilbao as well as leading specific wildlife watching cruises on chartered cruise ships. Following this, Emma worked as a Marine Wildlife Surveyor in the Oil & Gas/Renewables industry for two years and was a key surveyor in a long-term seabird and cetacean survey in the North Sea as well as a government requested seabird and marine mammal survey off the Falkland Islands. Emma has worked for Essex Wildlife Trust and Colchester Borough Council as a Visitor Centre Manager and Outdoor Education Officer before moving to Orkney to take up the role of Sanday Ranger in 2015. She is still heavily involved with MARINElife as a trustee and also works as a marine wildlife and oceanography/geology guest speaker on cruise ships.
Emma has been heavily involved with rescuing stranded cetaceans since 2004 with British Divers Marine Life Rescue and was a team member of the 2006 Thames Whale rescue as well as co-ordinator of successful Pilot Whale mass stranding rescues in 2012 in Essex and 2019 in Orkney. She was the Area Co-ordinator for Essex since 2009 as well as an Out of Hours Co-ordinator and more recently has become the Area Co-ordinator for Orkney. Throughout her career, Emma has completed over 200,000 miles of survey during which she has recorded 43 species of cetacean and is very keen to add to this number! She would also openly admit that she is slightly (very) obsessed with all things marine wildlife!
OMMRI Secretary, Volunteer Field Research Officer and Volunteer Funding Officer
Imogen’s interest in biodiversity conservation was initially sparked when working for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. Following a move to Orkney, her love of the outdoors and interest in the marine environment developed with a specific focus on marine mammals.
Imogen is already involved with several marine organisations in a volunteer capacity: British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), Scottish Government’s Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme (SMASS), Sea Shepherd UK (Regional Coordinator) and MARINElife (Trustee).
As well as activities within the UK, Imogen has also participated in research at the Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas in Venezuela. As well as an opportunity to practice data collection skills in a much warmer environment, it was also a chance to gain additional experience in cetacean photo ID skills and catalogue creation.
Imogen has spent most of her career working in the third sector, primarily in project management and leadership roles. She is also a Trustee of THAW Orkney and recently became the volunteer editor of the Orkney Bird Report.
Having previously attended university (twice!) many moons ago, Imogen is currently studying at university again to obtain a degree in Marine Science.