Rachel Gardener 12 September-6 November 2012, UK
I applied to volunteer at the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre to gain experience in British marine conservation charities after graduating with a degree in Marine Biology and with a September start date it seemed rather perfect. I wanted to help with the education and research and gain an insight into dolphin conservation, but after two months in New Quay I gained so much more.
As I look back at the different events that passed during those two months it makes me very happy – the people were fantastic and I was able to watch dolphins and seals everyday, either from land or boat based surveys or by glancing out the window in the visitor centre. Even sitting out in the pouring rain watching the dolphins leap and train the newborn calves to swim properly was a joy. And there was always someone waiting with a hot drink when you got back to the centre.
I made friends, took part in scientific surveys, learned about dolphins and seals, was able to watch some pretty incredible acrobatic displays from adult dolphins and some hilarious splashing from their calves. I was able to take part in two all day boat trips on which I helped with acoustic recordings of the dolphins which was an absolute delight. I even learned to knit!
Each day was spent taking part in land and/or boat based surveys, recording sightings, assisting in the visitor centre or even taking part in beach cleans. Thanks to the other volunteers, whatever task we were doing for the day was done with laughter and entertainment, from start to finish. I can truly say that volunteering at CBMWC was an eye opening experience in the kind of conservation work that is available in the UK. The experience gained in those two months will stay with me for a long time with some hilarious and fond memories. I cannot wait to go back and visit.