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!