Meet The Team
Founder & Chairperson
Gareth’s interest in seals came about after a chance meeting with a small seal pup on Lundy Island. He was totally smitten watching these incredible animals in the wild and now devotes his time protecting them and the marine environment they live in. He is a member of the UK Seal Alliance (Disturbance Working Group) actively promoting their conservation and protection throughout the UK. He also acts as the liaison between the UK Seal Alliance and the Welsh Police Wildlife Crime Group. Gareth also sits on the newly created Wales Mammal Strategy Group. Locally, he conducts photographic identification surveys of Atlantic Grey Seals for Gower National Trust. He’s a trained volunteer Medic with British Divers Marine Life Rescue and volunteers for the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital at Taunton where he looks after displaced, poorly and injured seal pups. Gareth has been delivering presentations on his work for the last five years. Gareth is a UK accredited Wildlife Safe Adventure Operator (WiSe Scheme). In July 2021 he founded Gower Seal Group with the intention of bringing together passionate volunteers to promote and give a voice to the local seals that visit Gower.
Lizzie is a marine biologist and works as a Wildlife Guide. She is the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) area coordinator for South Wales as well as a marine mammal medic. She has had several different roles surveying seals in the UK and has been photographing Gower’s seals since 2013.
Lizzie loves chatting about seals and what amazing creatures they are. She is keen to help give our local seals a voice and to spread the message about watching seals well, so that our seals are protected and everyone can enjoy them responsibly.
Dave is a volunteer walk leader for the National Trust on Gower and met Gareth as a fellow walk leader. It was Gareth’s talk on the local seals delivered to visitors that sparked an interest in the Atlantic Grey Seal and the rest, as the cliché says, is natural history. Dave is a wildlife photographer and has recently returned to the moving image to make short videos for the Gower Seal Group. Dave is one of the Group’s Seal Ambassadors and will bring the knowledge and experience gained within the group into the guided walks of the National Trust’s 2022 programme. He will also be taking part in the Gower Seal Group education and events programmes going forward.
Dave is looking forward to engaging with the public, both formally in educational events and informally on day to day interactions with visitors to the Gower Coast.
Emily Parkinson lives on Gower. She is a Jeweller, Forest School Leader and former Primary School Teacher. Emily has a lifelong love of animals, nature and wildlife, and shares her home with a variety of beloved rescue pets . . . as well as her three children and husband Andy . . .
She became involved with Gower Seal Group through her passion for the seals she sees on her daily coastal walks, and inspired by the enthusiasm and knowledge of Gareth, founder of the group.
Emily is a Seal Ambassador, and undertakes continued skills and knowledge training relating to Atlantic Grey seals, their lives and conservation as part of this role. She looks forward to sharing her passion and knowledge as part of Gower Seal Group’s events and education programme going forward.
Rachel is a Gower resident and lives with her husband, three children and two dogs.
Rachel is an ex-community councillor and co-founder of the Gower commons action group. She’s worked as a local Science teacher for 20 years before recently switching careers to work in the Environmental sector. She has also had a long history of working in animal welfare and dog training locally.
Rachel is currently studying for her MSc in Environmental conservation and management, skills that will ensure she can make an invaluable contribution to the work of the Gower seal group.Rachel is looking forward to providing training and events as a Seal Ambassador.
Natalie lives and works near Gower as a Veterinary Surgeon. Her first of many favourite animals was a seal which has now led her full circle to become a member of Gower Seal Group. Natalie loves nothing more than being outdoors in nature- wildlife watching, exploring, for fitness and to unwind with her Labrador Duke.
She’s a qualified Marine Mammal Medic with BDMLR, BSAC Sports Diver, and a volunteer with Surfability.
Natalie has enjoyed building the website and looks forward to being a Seal Ambassador with GSG at education events and ghost net beach cleans.
Owen is a marine biology student with a keen interest in ecology and conservation. His interest in seals began during a field trip in the first year of my marine biology degree to a well-known grey seal haul-out site on the Gower. The purpose of the trip was to survey intertidal invertebrates, but Owen was instead captivated by the nearby grey seals and their newly born pups.
Ever since seeing videos and hearing stories about seals interacting with humans, Owen has been fascinated with them, their behaviour and personalities. He was very fortunate to discover the Gower Seal Group on Facebook and learn about how these interactions can have negative and sometimes dangerous consequences for the welfare and survival of seals. This inspired him to join the group on their mission to inform and educate the public about how to observe and appreciate seals from a distance and without disturbance.
As an aspiring marine ecologist, Owen’s interest in seals and their conservation goes beyond their cuteness. He values seals not only for how much joy they bring him but also for their importance in maintaining healthy ecosystems, especially since their ecosystems are heavily threatened by pollution and climate change.
Madi is a local naturalist, conservationist, photographer and science communicator. Having grown up along the South Gower coast, Madi has been fortunate enough to spend the majority of her life exploring its unique ecosystems, habitats and wildlife, including the grey seals of course!
She is interested in all things coastal, community conservation, behavioural ecology and climate adaptation. She is also a diver, a Marine Mammal Medic with BDMLR, a wildlife guide and community conservationist, specialising in coastal conservation and community action. Madi will be assisting with media and outreach as part of her role with GSG.