Author: CBMWC Officer

WTSWW ecological training courses 2015

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) Ecological Training Courses offer a great opportunity for conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts to increase their field identification skills and learn more about nature conservation and the ecology of a variety of species and taxa. Courses are designed to provide a broad knowledge of the topic through practical and theoretical sessions, based at the Parc Slip Wildlife Trust Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve, Tondu, Bridgend.

Courses include management planning for nature conservation; ecology and survey skills of various species including otters, amphibians and reptiles, butterflies and moths, bats, dormice, dung beetles and grassland management and an introduction to wildlife photography.

For full courses details and more information download the course brochure and visit the WTSWW Parc Slip Wildlife Trust Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve page on their website.


Milly Metcalfe ShoreFin Volunteer 7th April-3rd November 2014, UK

My time at Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre was an experience I couldn’t appreciate more. The work, the people and the place were all incredible and I’ve gained so much from my time there.

I was working on CBMWC’s first land-based photo-ID project, the ShoreFin project, for the entire season. This was an incredible experience and I couldn’t thank the Centre enough for giving me the opportunity to be a part of such a fantastic project.

However the work was only half the experience, New Quay itself is beautiful, you don’t mind working early as it means seeing the sunrises across the bay and you don’t mind working late in the office to hear only the sea from your desk. The coastline is astonishing and you never tire of seeing it from the boat and it’s just as fantastic from the coastal path. The CBMWC team – Laura, Sarah and Steve were such great people to work for and provided me with endless entertainment and laughs. They were so friendly and welcoming and it was such a great experience to be working with three individuals so passionate about marine conservation. The fellow volunteers I met, both local and seasonal, were a big part of my experience and with the many faces I met over my 7 months in New Quay, they provided me with so many memories and made the little town of New Quay a lively and a fun place to be. The locals of New Quay were so welcoming and such a great bunch of people to get to know. To live and work with them was really special and I’m so grateful for them for making me feel so at home in New Quay!

As for wildlife in New Quay, you will never leave disappointed. On both land and sea I saw wild animals in abundance. In my time in Wales I saw bottlenose dolphins, grey seals, harbour porpoises, sunfish, spider crabs, badgers, foxes and deer to name a few. With bottlenose dolphins as the focus of the project I was expecting to see a few but I was not prepared for how many I actually saw on a daily basis. I would be photographing dolphins round the harbour wall and in the bay throughout the majority of the day over the summer months and to witness amazing behaviours at such close encounters was incredible. I was very lucky to stay all season as a lovely part of the project was getting to a point where I would instantly recognise individual dolphins and you would almost ‘get to know’ them watching them for days on end through the summer.

I can’t cover how great my time with CBMWC was, as a graduated marine biologist this was a perfect first volunteering experience for me to gain new knowledge and put to test the skills learnt at university and to work with others passionate about marine conservation. But the benefits are so much more!

Thank you CBMWC it was a privilege to be a part of your work!

ShoreFin report 2014

Initiated in 2014, ShoreFin is our dedicated land-based bottlenose dolphin photo-identification (photo-ID) project whose aim is to build up an understanding of bottlenose dolphin site usage within the New Quay bay area, to find out which individuals visit the New Quay bay and to find out more about the ecology and life history of these animals.

This field season our primary aim was to develop our methodology for establishing this as an ongoing research project. By documenting the individual animals that visit the New Quay bay area we aim to acquire a greater understanding of the bottlenose dolphin population
residing in Cardigan Bay. We anticipate that the data we collected in 2014 will contribute towards answering further questions regarding bottlenose dolphin site usage,  behaviours and provide additional information on the range of the local population as well as the potential effects of human activities on their behaviour.

For more information on the project visit our ShoreFin page and follow us on Twitter @ShoreFin

PDF icon Download the ShoreFin project report 2014

Alex Bolland 31st March-2nd November 2014, UK

Volunteering with the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre is an excellent way to gain practical experience that you simply don’t get at University and to improve your C.V. You will be responsible for data collection in the field, data handling, working with the public to increase awareness of environmental issues both local and on a wider scale and educating both children and adults. There are also additional opportunities such as managing the aquarium and other computer based projects. During my stay I managed the aquarium and began the development of a new Atlantic Grey Seal photo-identification project to be pursued by the centre.

Cardigan Bay itself is a beautiful part of the world. You never get tired of looking at the coastline when you are out on the boats and there are plenty of places to walk and get out especially if you are usually stuck in a city like me. New Quay is great as well; it’s a small place most of the year until the tourists turn up and then things get a bit louder. I would recommend going any time, busy or not and if you are there during the summer holidays then the New Quay Music Festival is worth going to!

The CBMWC team are great. Thank you Laura, Sarah and Steve for putting up with me all summer. Thanks as well to all the local volunteers, I am sure I will visit again sometime soon.

I would recommend volunteering at the CBMWC to anyone who is looking for additional experience. The positions available are ideal for anyone currently doing a degree or just having finished it.

Volunteer in 2015

We have a number of volunteer opportunities available in 2015.

Seasonal bottlenose dolphin research and visitor centre volunteers are required for specific periods from 23rd March through to 2nd November to help with our ongoing research, education and awareness-raising programmes concerning the marine wildlife of Cardigan Bay.

We are also recruiting our ShoreFin team to continue our successful 2014 pilot project and have just added three new opportunities – Atlantic grey seal photo-ID volunteer, volunteer co-ordinator assistant and marine education and awareness assistant.

Find out more about volunteering at CBMWC

Abbie Mabey 31st March–7th September 2014, UK

Volunteering at the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre was a special experience that I will remember forever. The tasks were varied and interesting, allowing us to get involved in all aspects of the centre, from helping in the visitor centre (taking boat bookings and talking to the public), to litter picks, updating social media, running educational activities, and doing land and boat surveys. These were particularly fun, even in the rain! New Quay itself is a lovely little place; with friendly locals and gorgeous scenery (the coastal path is especially beautiful).

And of course there were the dolphins. I gained a real understanding of how clever and complex these animals are, and I had some amazing encounters with them, especially on the all-day boat trips. The mother and calf pairs were extremely cute.  There is plenty of other wildlife too, kestrels, razorbills and lots of seals. My favourite memory was during a land watch, when we saw a harbour porpoise almost strand itself on one of the beaches, which the volunteers then had to save!

The other volunteers were some of the loveliest people I’ve ever met, and I have made some amazing friends. We filled the evenings with pub quizzes, beach barbeques and rock pooling, it was great fun. I was only supposed to volunteer for two months at the start of the season, but I loved it so much I went back for the summer as well.

It was my first time away from home, but everyone was really supportive and welcoming, making it easy to settle in. It definitely prepared me for university life. I’ve learned so much from the staff and all the volunteers and it’s inspired me to dedicate my career to conservation. I’m so grateful to the wonderful staff that allowed me to do it, I would recommend it to anyone!

Kat Jones 2 June-6 July 2014, UK

As I am currently studying at University towards my degree in Marine Biology I really wanted to be involved in related volunteer work during my summer holidays. I learned of the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre through an email from my careers officer at Uni. I thought it was a fantastic opportunity for me to gain some experience and to be involved in conservation, not to mention having my first marine volunteer opportunity in the UK.

I was incredibly lucky during my time in Wales as I had five weeks of gorgeous sunshine allowing the opportunity to be outside every day. All this time outside turned my skin a nice brown colour with some interesting tan lines from sitting on the harbour wall completing a land-bsed survey or on the roof of one of the boats used by CBMWC.  Other chances to get outside included litter picking on the beach and around New Quay town.  To some this may not sound very exciting, but trying to beat previous records collecting the most cigarette ends can make it more entertaining and competitive between some of the volunteers. Also, this time outside was a great way to speak to visitors spending time in New Quay, answering their questions about the marine mammals, conservation or in my case my thoughts on the Scottish Referendum and how I was going to vote!

Although I found it a bit daunting at first as there was a lot to remember, I did quickly get into the swing of things. An important part of the survey work is inputting the data which allows not only CBMWC to see the marine mammals’ movements but the information can be also be used by the local council to help protect the area. I also found it useful to get an insight into previous years’ sightings and it allowed me to get some experience of collecting and inputting data. When I wasn’t doing this I was downstairs in the visitor centre making boat bookings, selling merchandise and answering any visitors’ questions, and in between this making sure the place was clean and tidy.

I was very fortunate as all the volunteers I met were genuinely lovely people and I have made some great friends. The locals were also very friendly and up for a chat. I would also like to take this time to thank Laura, Sarah, Steve and Phil for educating and helping me during my stay. I had had some sad news while I was volunteering and everyone was very supportive and understanding. Overall it was a fantastic experience and I would highly recommend it, in fact I will to other students at my Uni.

SAS Autumn Beach Clean

Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre have organised a community beach clean on New Quay beaches from 10-12pm on Friday 17th October 2014 as part of Surfers Against Sewage’s Autumn Beach Clean Series.  This environmental initiative, working together with World Animal Protection and The Crown Estate, brings together many thousands of volunteers at 150 beaches around the country on the 17th, 18th and 19th of October to help conserve and enhance our beautiful coastline for the whole community.

To take part, meet us at the CBMWC visitor centre at 10am.

All gloves, bags and litter picks provided.

ShoreFin Project

ShoreFin is our land-based bottlenose photo-ID project.

With the help of volunteers dedicated to this project, we aim photograph the animals using the New Quay bay area to find out whether the same animals visit the area each day and whether the same animals return to the same site each year. By using this information in conjunction with our boat-based photo-ID work we can build up a better picture of which areas are important to these animals.

For more information on the project visit the ShoreFin Project webpage and for regular updates see our facebook page and follow us on Twitter @ShoreFin

BDMLR Marine Mammal Medic Course

Book your place on British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) Marine Mammal Medic course being held on Sunday 7th September at CBMWC.

You will receive training in how to rescue whales, dolphins and seals provided by BDMLR.

This is a full day course. The fee of £90 includes a year’s subscription to BDMLR, a year’s 3rd party rescue medic insurance, cloth medic badge, car stickers, medic ID card, a certificate and a copy of their internationally accredited Marine Mammal Medic Handbook.

To book your place and for more information please contact BDMLR directly (not CBMWC).

Book via their website or call 01825 765 546 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm). Download the course poster here.

Please note that you will need your own drysuit or wetsuit with boots for this course. Practicals will be held in the water in the afternoon. CBMWC and BDMLR unfortunately do not have this equipment to hire.

Additional Environment Wales funding received

We are delighted to announce that our application to Environment Wales for additional funding towards our land-based bottlenose dolphin photo-ID project has been successful.

We have been awarded an extra £509 which will enable us to purchase a monopod, UV filter, rain cover and some essential new waterproofs for the volunteer who will be stationed on the harbour wall and poised to take photographs whenever the dolphins are in the harbour area – come rain or shine!

As always we are extremely grateful to Environment Wales for their continued support of our work.

Land-based photo-ID volunteer position

We are recruiting a volunteer to run our land-based photo-ID project for the 2014 season (April to November). This role is responsible for conducting opportunistic land-based photo-ID of bottlenose dolphins from New Quay harbour and then sorting, matching and cataloguing the images. At the end of the project you will be expected to produce a detailed report.

The successful applicant will receive full training in the form of a three day professional photography course “Documenting coastal species through photography” being hosted by CBMWC. The course is run in association with Aberystwyth University’s School of Life Long Learning and is tailored to meet the requirements for this project. Please note that your costs of participating in the course will be covered.

Role description:
• Be responsible for photographing the bottlenose dolphins (and other marine mammals) in the New Quay harbour survey area
• Be responsible for sorting, matching and cataloguing bottlenose dolphin photographs
• Supervise CBMWC volunteers taking part in the land-based photo-ID project, disseminating information gained during the photography training
• Assist with sorting, matching and cataloguing additional photographs of bottlenose dolphins
• Assist in training volunteers in the analysis of photo-ID images
• Maintain up to date procedures for all aspects of the photo-ID work
• Assist with compiling the CBMWC bottlenose dolphin photo-ID catalogue
• Provide regular project updates to CBMWC Science officer
• You may also be requested to help with other aspects of our work, such as research data collection and entry and staffing the visitor centre.

Essential skills and qualifications:
• Fluency in English
• Mature and responsible attitude as you will be using expensive camera and computer equipment
• Proactive and ability to work independently and unsupervised
• Ability to work closely with others as part of a small team
• IT skills
• An interest in wildlife and conservation
• Excellent verbal and written communication skills

Desirable skills:
• Experience with digital SLR cameras and wildlife photography
• Experience using ArcGIS
• An interest and knowledge of British cetaceans
• A background in biology/marine biology/environmental science

The successful applicant must be available to start on 7th April and commit for the entire field season until 3rd November. Flexibility in working hours is essential as the photography work will need to be undertaken opportunistically when the dolphins are in the New Quay harbour area so you must be prepared to work outside of normal working hours.

Accommodation and expenses:
A double room with en suite is available in a private house in New Quay for £60/week, including bills and wifi. You will be responsible for all accommodation, travel and other expenses incurred however it is relatively easy to find a part-time evening job.

To apply:
Please email a CV and covering letter outlining your experience and motivations for applying to by 17th March. Interviews will take place on 24th March at CBMWC.

For further information and any queries, please contact
Laura Mears, Project Officer
Tel: 01545 560224