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.