Research Intern Chantelle Green sadly left New Quay today, here she describes her experience as a Period 1 volunteer…
It’s hard to believe it has been two months since us period 1 interns arrived in New Quay, full of nerves and excitement about what lay in store for us and of course, ever ready to go and spot some dolphins. For each of us, our own experiences and messages we take away with us will be very different, but it goes without saying that our time interning with Sea Watch Foundation has had an impact on us all.
Without blowing our own trumpets, I think us period one interns achieved a lot as a group. I remember arriving in New Quay after five hours of travel, including a one-hour bus trip from Aberystwyth to the location of our intern house. I was mostly worried that because I got there so late, everyone would have picked roommates, got talking and I’d be the odd one out. Claudia, our research assistant greeted me and instantly made me feel more at ease, and we sat in the living room of the intern house and got to know a bit more about each other.
It is safe to say those first few hours were full of shy and award conversation which is so strange now having shared so much with each other. Even stranger to think that along the way we lost and gained new interns due to some having to leave as they got their dream jobs while here (congratulations again guys!) Here from the start or joining period 1 a little later, living with each other 24 hours a day for two months has ways of bringing people together. We are now a fully-fledged family unit, know each other’s weirdest secrets, we have had disagreements, tears, endless selfies and embarrassing pictures and we have laughed until our stomachs ached. In fact, for me at least, even despite moments of stress which is what happens when you see the same people for hours on end, I have laughed more here as an intern in New Quay than I have for a long time.
For anybody considering interning with Sea Watch, or any other charity or company, I will say interning is a daunting experience before you do it. However, once you get there, wherever in the world it may be, you realise quickly you are all in the same boat and everything gets easier and better from there. The past two months have honestly flown by so much quicker than I thought they would, and I will be so sad to be leaving New Quay and its beautiful coasts, but sadder to be leaving the friends I have made behind.
Joining experiences like this will leave you with memories like no other, and they will probably stick with you always. For us period 1 bunch, we had family roasts, movie nights, tons of food shop orders and food shopping trips (9 people is a lot to feed!), pamper nights using lush products to hand and arm massage, we have had birthday meals and BBQs, beach walks and coastal discoveries.
We have learnt how to use new software, spent hours surveying dolphins, sometimes in great weather and sometimes not so great! We have taken poor quality dolphin photo ID photos at the start of the internship, and then got much better at taking dolphin ID photos. Our experiences included attending important Annual Meetings, connecting with other people in New Quay like the fantastic skippers of our boat survey tours Johnathon and Sarah at Dolphin spotting boat trips as well as finding friends in our fellow researchers in New Quay- Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre.
The crazy antics have gone beyond this even, with weird dancing, sing off karaoke battles, random beach swims in freezing water, constant petting and cuddles of just about every dog in New Quay, singing songs on top of the boats to keep us awake after hours of surveying, and I myself even went Bald for the Bottlenose and shaved my head during the final weekend meaning we raised over £400 for the foundation to use in its education centre! Of course, alongside all of this we have experienced amazing marine species, from barrel jellyfish, Atlantic grey seals and harbour porpoise and of course, our very loved, bottle nose dolphins.
As the period ends, we all have different ways to go. Some of us are staying on longer for more periods to help train the new groups. One of us is moving to New Quay permanently as they love it so much, and others will eventually move on to fantastic marine jobs overseas. We are already planning our next big meet up and will continue to research and conserve cetacean species.
For me, I have absolutely adored my time as an intern for Sea Watch and will be sad to part ways with everyone here but for me at least I am already thinking of coming back. Despite the ups and downs it is 100% worth it. Now it is time for our period to end, and the Period 2 interns are about to arrive. I hope they have as much as a blast as we have and continue to break barriers and do amazing things for the cetaceans in British and Irish waters.
You can follow Chan’s personal blog here.