Matthew Parsley, Chepstow Comprehensive School, 4-8th July 2011

I was thrilled to be accepted for a one week work experience as a marine research assistant at the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre. I have been interested in marine life for as long as I can remember and I have visited lots of marine centres in this country and abroad. I have even done a survey trip through the Bay of Biscay where I was lucky enough to spot a 22m fin whale breaching just ahead of the ship I was in! I want to study marine biology and really wanted my work experience week to help prepare me for that.

I don’t live near to New Quay so my family rented a holiday home and we stayed in New Quay for the week. Before my start on Monday, we went on one of the centre’s visitor boat trips and my mum spotted a bottlenose dolphin and got a bit excited! We also spotted lots of jellyfish, one of which was really big. There were loads of seabirds too. I introduced myself to some of the people who would be helping me during my work experience week, which was great. When I did start on the Monday morning everyone was really friendly and made me feel very welcome.

I did so much during the week and I enjoyed it all! I helped with public awareness in the visitor centre, served members of the public who were buying things, did a land survey and did litter picking on the beach all on my first day. The land survey was something I did lots of and I was taught lots about recognising the marine animals and how to make the right notes to track activity, behaviour and weather conditions. I did have one very wet land survey which meant I didn’t spot a lot that day but over the week there was lots going on including regular spotting of a bottlenose dolphin mother and calf. Other work during the week included entering survey data onto spreadsheets and preparing entries for publication on the CBMWC website. But the highlight of my week was the boat survey especially when one dolphin jumped up right next to the boat!

I really had the best week and I hope I get another opportunity like this soon. Thanks to Laura and all the team!