In New Quay, we have now entered our final period of interns this year. We said farewell to Rebecca, who had been our Research Assistant since April and welcomed Thomas into the role at the start of this month. Thomas joined us in April as a Research Intern and has been a valuable member of the team ever since with his consistent hard work and enthusiasm. Thomas graduated from Bangor University with an MSc in Marine Biology last year and, after working in the NHS for a few months, joined our internship program in New Quay. Now, progressing to Research Assistant, he is looking forward to the new challenges this role will bring such as training the new interns and becoming more involved in other aspects of our work. In his spare time he is looking forward to continuing to explore New Quay and the surrounding areas, especially the coastal paths. To get to know Thomas a bit better, I asked him a few questions and this is what he had to say..
What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
I’ve always enjoyed the classic wildlife documentaries from the likes of Sir David Attenborough so found myself naturally drawn to the field of biological sciences from early on in secondary school. When I finished school, I became quite invested in the the hobby of aquariums and maintained a large freshwater tank of tropical fish. It was because of this I originally took interest in marine life.
What steps did you take or are you currently taking to achieve your career goals?
I began by completing my undergraduate degree in Marine Biology at the University of Hull which equipped me with a strong set of both practical and academic skills. On leaving university I found myself eager to learn more so went on to complete my MSc in Marine Biology at Bangor University. It was during this time I became particularly interested in marine mammals and decided I wished to pursue a career involving their study and protection. This is what eventually lead me to apply for an internship with the Sea Watch Foundation.
Which part of working for Sea Watch Foundation do you enjoy the most?
Going out on survey and being able to contribute to the continued protection of the dolphins in Cardigan Bay is really amazing. However, I think the part I enjoy the most is assisting with the sighting submission’s that come in from our volunteers across the UK as this has given me a true insight into the range of species that can be seen around our coast as well as the enjoyment that they bring to people.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
Academia is important but if you really want to do something then it doesn’t need to stand in your way. Things that really matter are a strong work ethic passion and the ability to learn from others around you.
What advice could you give budding marine conservationists?
University is great, and a degree can equip you with lots of skills but it isn’t the same as real life experience. In this sector, I would argue that this sort of experience can be just as important and is something you can gain through volunteering or internships such as the one run by the foundation in New Quay.
What is your favourite marine creature and why?
My favourite marine creature would be the leopard seal, they are a little less well known than some other marine mammals but are just as smart and impressive, they have even evolved interlocking back teeth which allow them to strain krill from the water almost like a baleen whale!
And finally, what is your most unforgettable moment at sea?
My most unforgettable moment at sea would have to be form one of the surveys I was fortunate to partake in earlier this year where we encountered not one but two pods of common dolphins which is very unusual for the area we were surveying, the dolphins had a great time playing around the boat whilst the team worked to take pictures of their fins for identification and they put on a great show playing in the bow wave and wake of the boat.
Thanks for that Thomas! We can’t wait to see how your career continues to progress. If you want to find out more about what it is like to be the Research Assistant at Sea Watch Foundation, Rebecca filmed a day in the life over on our Instagram.
Katie Baker Communication and Outreach Officer