We’re here! The last cohort of summer interns arrived last Monday and training week was as jam-packed and exciting as always.
We were thrown straight into the action after being told when we arrived that a transect survey for the whole team was planned on Wednesday! A day and a half of presentations and learning from SWF staff ensued. How to correctly record data, what to look for when on surveys, how to record the environmental state etc. were all covered before we were ready to set foot on one of the local dolphin watching boats on Tuesday to give it a go ourselves. With many experienced members of the team on hand to help us out our first trip was quite successful. Although no dolphins were spotted, we did see some grey seals – which is always an exciting experience!
Wednesday brought with it sunshine and calm seas, so the whole team came along on the Dunbar at 8am for a day of transect surveys. The ever entertaining distance training was first on the agenda. Estimating the distance between yourself and the selected buoy sounds a lot easier than it actually is (as we found out), but when we all got our eye in, we were ready to go. The transect line was chosen at random from pre-determined routes as always. As the survey went on we all got to try each different positions onboard the boat, and of course we were able to excitedly experience our first dolphin encounters – hopefully of many!
Thursday and Friday consisted of both sightings and data entry training. Land watches from the pier are conducted every day so it is important we know how to do them properly. Learning how to fill in the different forms and record databases was made much easier with the help of our more experienced interns and being able to shadow them regularly. Everyone had a lot of fun learning to record large groups of dolphins from the sightings videos and matching dolphin fins through photo ID.
More dolphin sightings came at the weekend on our land watches from the sunny New Quay pier. Shadowing of the more experienced observers is still continuing at the moment, but soon we will be good enough to go at it alone.
So far, so good!