Dr Nicole Esteban

Team Role: Associate Professor in Marine Biology, Swansea University

What is your area of expertise in the field of conservation?  I am a marine ecologist and come from a background of marine conservation management. I have worked with diverse stakeholders to coordinate management activities and research programmes in marine and terrestrial parks. In this role, I have produced species recovery plans for endangered species and developed monitoring programmes, for example, to assess the impacts of local management actions to protect CITES listed species in protected areas, and estimate population sizes and trends of threatened species over time.

My research is generally driven by targeted conservation questions, and current projects include learning about seasonality of movements by marine vertebrates, from satellite tracking of green turtles across thousands of miles in the Indian Ocean to acoustic tracking of salmonid fish as they migrate down rivers to the Bristol Channel.

What are the key issues you are engaged with at the moment? I am interested in developing our understanding of animal movements within marine and coastal habitats; and applying that knowledge to development of the right conservation approaches to ensure effective protection of species and their breeding and foraging habitats. Current projects include work in South Wales to improve our understanding of the value of saltmarshes for fish, and to measure whether restored saltmarsh can support similar fish population sizes observed in adjacent undisturbed saltmarsh.

Further afield, I have been working to understand critical foraging habitats for hawksbill turtles in the Seychelles and Chagos Archipelago; we are currently studying their diet and movements so that we can recommend priority habitats for conservation planning in those regions.

What could people in the outdoors do to protect and minimize their impact on the type of habitats you focus on?  It is easy to forget the impact that we place on remote areas, especially during busy weekends or holiday periods. Respect local communities, stick to public footpaths and close gates, and don’t leave anything behind except footprints.

We see ever increasing volumes of rubbish along rivers and coasts and I would invite everyone to clean up some rubbish during a walk. If you have time, get involved with local wildlife trusts and help out with volunteer work.

How and why did you become involved with EOCA? I have been really impressed by the scope and range of projects funded by EOCA. It didn’t take much convincing to agree to help when I was asked to provide advice on project proposals related to the marine environment.

Favourite wild place: That’s a really hard question to answer as I’ve been to many beautiful places. I think my favourite, remote area, was a tiny remote uninhabited island (just 1 mile long) in the Indian Ocean where I had the opportunity to camp with three other scientists to conduct wildlife surveys for two weeks.

Favourite outdoor activity: A ramble along the local coastline around the Gower peninsula, perhaps with some stops to check out rockpools during low tides. I also enjoy going for a splash with my boogie board if weather permits. I really enjoy time in the water and try to go snorkelling and diving when I go away on holiday.

Perfect day: A summer’s day where we have enough daylight hours for a long hike along the coast followed by a dip in the sea and BBQ with family and friends.