This week we chat to…Gale Loescher, Assistant Animal Care Manager and Intern Coordinator with Seal Rescue Ireland. Often, it is hard to figure out what exactly you want to do as a marine biologist but discovering marine animal rehabilitation just clicked for Gale and now caring for sick, injured and orphaned seals is all she wants to do.
Name: Gale Loescher
Job Title: Assistant Animal Care Manager and Intern Coordinator
Organisation: Seal Rescue Ireland
- What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
I was in university studying biology with no idea what career I wanted, when I began volunteering in marine animal rehabilitation. I fell in love with seals. It is so rewarding to care for sick, injured and orphaned seals and see them released back into the wild when they are healthy. But it is not enough to save individual seals, we must protect the ocean environment in which they live.
- What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
I have done a lot of volunteering and internships. It can be difficult not getting paid for your hard work, but the experience gained from interning and volunteering is incredibly valuable. I feel that enjoying the work you do is far more important than money (unfortunately some money is necessary in life).
- How did you land your current job/position?
I saw a posting for an Assistant Animal Care Manager position at Seal Rescue Ireland. Though it wasn’t a paying job, it sounded like an exciting adventure. So I applied. They found me to be well qualified and offered me the position.
- Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
The hands-on work with seals is, of course, the most enjoyable. I hate being stuck in an office. Feeding and caring for little seal pups and watching them get stronger and healthier makes all the less fun aspects of my job worthwhile.
- Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
Every time I see a seal released back into the wild, I know that is a life that I helped save. Also, engaging with the public and teaching them about seals and the human-caused threats they face is so important.
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
Sometimes I wish that I had known before I ever volunteered in marine animal rehabilitation that no other job would ever be as enjoyable. Then I might be content in a better paying field. But I am quite happy with the experiences and adventures I have had in pursuit of a career in marine animal rehab.
- Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
A lot of people want to work with animals because they don’t like working with people (I might have been one of those people). I have found that interpersonal skills are still highly important. Being able to spread your passion for the animals to other people is how a non-profit is able to bring in the donations necessary to save animals. I also spend a lot of my time supervising and teaching interns and volunteers, which I have discovered is rewarding in its own way.
- What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
Take every opportunity to gain work experience. It’s helpful to figure out what work you enjoy doing and also gain experience that will make you more employable. Plus you might have some exciting adventures along the way.
- What is your favourite marine creature and why?
Elephant Seals. They are huge and lazy. They also make very silly noises. Elephant Seals also are impressive in how far they swim and how deep they dive.
- What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
I was on holiday on Grand Cayman Island. I spent a lot of time snorkelling in different spots. There was a wide variety of brightly coloured fish and lots of coral. But my favourite day was when we saw sea turtles. The sea turtles were just munching on some seagrass and not at all bothered by the snorkelers floating above them. It was so peaceful to just watch them swimming gracefully.
Thank you Gale, it really does sound like you’ve found your dream job. If you’d like to join Gale working with seals in Ireland then check out the four internships, and volunteer staff role that are currently available to apply for with Seal Rescue Ireland.