GMIT Researchers explore the art of Ethical Taxidermy in Marine Science Education

GMIT has been awarded funding from the Irish Research Council to develop an exciting marine science outreach project on ethical taxidermy

Seabirds in their natural habitat, and seabird samples collected dead along our coastline [Photo Dr Katie O’Dwyer]

GMIT has been awarded funding from the Irish Research Council to develop an exciting marine science outreach project on ethical taxidermy (stuffing and preserving animals found dead) to raise awareness of the effects of pollution on seabirds. 

The project, “The art of ethical taxidermy in marine science education”, aims to use new techniques marrying art and science to draw attention to issues facing seabirds in their wider environment. It will involve a multidisciplinary team of scientists, artists, registered taxidermists and media, led by GMIT’s Dr Katie O’Dwyer, lecturer in Aquatic Ecology, Dept of Natural Sciences. 

The team includes Donal Mulcahy of Glenameade Taxidermy and Aurelien McEvoy-Jean of East Coast Taxidermy; marine biologist and artist Sabine Springer; media producer Peter Cutler and GMIT scientist Andrew Power, both of Crow Crag Productions; and GMIT scientists Drs Katie O’Dwyer, Ian O’Connor and Heidi Acampora, all based at the Marine and Freshwater Research Centre in GMIT’s Dublin Road campus. 

Dr Katie O’Dwyer says: “We are very excited to have the opportunity to bring together a very creative team to produce this novel educational project. The seabirds we will be using were exposed to a range of man-made problems in their natural environment, including plastic pollution, oil pollution, and lost fishing gear.” 

“By creating thought-provoking displays highlighting the animals’ demise, we plan to promote conservation of the marine environment. As part of the project, we will also produce a video highlighting ongoing issues facing seabirds, along with the process of ethical taxidermy and its application in marine science education.” 

“By highlighting these issues through art and media, we hope to shed some light on priority areas targeted in the United Nations’ Sustainable Developmental Goals: Preventing and significantly reducing marine pollution; and, sustainably managing and protecting marine and coastal ecosystems”. 

Dr Rick Officer, GMIT VP for Research & Innovation, says: “GMIT’s research has greatly advanced scientific knowledge of marine pollution and strongly influenced national and international development of associated policies and legislation. This project will extend that impact and improve public understanding of the impacts of our pollution. I look forward to seeing the work of the great team involved in this important project”. 

The project “The art of ethical taxidermy in marine science education” is funded under the Irish Research Council New Foundations programme.