SNR News Story

Posted: 7/26/2019

Cabela’s opportunity launches Alex Otto closer to her career goal

Alex Otto, a senior fisheries and wildlife major, is spending her summer working at the Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute, in O Grove, Galicia, Spain.

“Working here so far has been an amazing experience just to help continue research on the long-term population study of these bottlenose dolphins,” she said. “Also, working and living with students all over the world has been such an inspirational experience. There are students and staff here from France, Russia, England, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, China, and the USA, but we all share the common enthusiasm for marine biology.”

During her internship, she’s getting valuable hands-on field experience both in the field (an open seas research vessel!) and in the lab, including mark and recapture photo identification and acoustics.

One day, “I worked 15 hours straight from sunrise to sunset!” she said. “I saw hundreds of dolphins that day, and it was a day I'll never forget.”

Otto also is working on her own independent thesis on the diet of the Eurasian Otter in the Ria de Arousa. Her thesis is in collaboration with BRDI and uses her knowledge of fish otoliths, which she learned from Dr. Mark Pegg at SNR. She’s analyzing the otoliths found in the spraints of the Eurasian otter to identify species and size of prey selected.

She plans to use this work for her UNL Honors Program thesis and also will work with Dr. John Benson of SNR to investigate the predator selection of prey this local otter exhibits.

As if all that wasn’t enough, Otto also is taking a course on bottlenose dolphins' fusion/fission society.

“With this internship, I will be getting one step closer to my goal of attending graduate school for marine mammal biology and conservation,” she said.

Otto earned a Cabela’s Apprenticeship through SNR, which allowed her to financially be able to accept the internship.

“I hope sharing this helps promote just how amazing the SNR department is. I am truly grateful to have been shown such incredible support and just wish to give back anyway I can.”