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Seal Sanctuary Volunteering - End

Posted on July 16, 2012 at 1:05 PM

So the end of volunteering at Gweek Seal Sanctuary was sad, although as I kept volunteering on weekends and could not go the last weekend due to a end of college camping trip, I never had a real 'last day', which was good as I am not sure Logsie would have dealt with me saying goodbye.

It was a brilliant experience. The weighing of countless fish and defrosting reminded me a lot of Monkey Mia and talking to the public too. I still enjoyed both of these jobs. The training of the seals was something I did not think I would get to do. The first time I did it, coping what the staff member did after her, I don't think I stopped grinning once. Then as I got use to it, I began to focus more on improving, such as getting the 'beeps' or 'whistles' in the correct place, mixing up the actions I was asking the seal to do, and being more clear in my gestures or tone of voice.

(Please go to my 'Videos' page to see a clip from a training session.)

By the end of the second week they were giving Jess and I the keys to enclosures, such as the penguins or common seals, to just go in and feed ourselves. This was really great as it showed how much they trusted us and how we were helpful for them. There was lots of laughs - like staff member Amy falling in the common seal pool - and some tears - like Barney the penguin passing away - but through everything I learnt so much! Even the paperwork and data taking was handy to learn.

It did also make me realise that, although it was brilliant, I do want to be a researcher, not a trainer. I know all the seals there could not be released, but part of me still did not like to see a seal barking on command and the audience laughing.

One of the best moments there was doing the Otter Talk. They normally never have volunteers wanting to do talks, but I certainly wanted to. Using the mic in front of the crowd and with out any sort of script was extremely worrying at first, then when I started I enjoyed it. Asking the crowd to guess what the otters had in their lunch box and telling them where they came from, why they were here and about their personalities. It was confidence building and enjoyable.

After my placement I got a lovely letter of recommendation from the staff to use at interviews for the future which will hopefully stand out. I hope to gain more experience like this in the years to come.

Jennifer xx

Categories: Gweek Seal Sanctuary

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