Jesse Wicker started working at NOAA SEFSC about 17 years ago as an intern through MAST academy working with the Biscayne Bay bottlenose dolphin photo ID program. Jesse obtained his undergraduate degree in biology with a minor in photography from Barry University. After finishing his degree, he started working full-time for CIMAS. Jesse has two primary research focuses. The first is the Biscayne Bay Dolphin Photo ID project which has been monitoring the populations of bottlenose dolphin in Biscayne Bay located in Miami, FL since 1990. He is also working on several projects which asses the abundance of marine mammals in U.S. waters through ship surveys and aerial surveys. The data collected can then be used to provide policy makers and managers with information regarding marine mammal distribution and abundance to inform decisions.
The field work aspect of Jesse’s job is what drives his passion for his work. On top of that, a driver is knowing that there are endless possibilities of finding something new. As a way for non-scientist citizens to get involved he would suggest getting involved in the stranding network through an authorized stranding response agency. A stranding occurs when a marine mammal is dead on the beach or in the water; or it is alive and in need of medical attention, and is unable to return to its natural habitat or under its own power or without assistance. There are a number of reasons why marine mammals strand. In many cases, the cause of stranding is unknown but some identified causes include; disease, parasite infection, harmful algal blooms, injuries due to ship strikes or human interaction, fishery entanglements, marine debris, pollution exposure, trauma, and malnutrition. So make sure to stay alert at sea and check your fishing lines!