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CIRCE Internship Summary

Posted on July 31, 2014 at 6:40 AM

Another volunteering experience completed and another wonderful month working with brilliant people and animals. I spent one month in July 2013 as a research assistant with CIRCE (conservation, information and research on cetaceans) in the Strait of Gibraltar. During my stay I participated in all on-board and land-based activities. For example, I helped at sea with photo-ID of various species of cetaceans, taking loads of photos which they will use in research and analyses. I hand a go at boat handling too, which was good fun, but took a lot of concentration. I spent a lot of time, and extra time, matching pictures for photo-ID on long finned pilot whales. When the weather was bad we watched documentaries and I was given presentations on different cetaceans and areas of research.

During the first half of my stay the other volunteer was French and couldn't speak much English and didn't know that much about cetaceans. She was difficult to work with and didn't do anything fun outside work, but in the second half it got much better when a girl my age studying vet science arrived. She was very interested in everything and we got on really well. I also made friends with the people I lived with, one of the interns was having boy trouble and we quickly bonded over that with me giving her advice.

Throughout my time there I learnt a lot and witnessed them taking biological samples of some whales - which included getting very close to them! I also saw the down side to this sort of work more, such as being completely dependant on the weather, having repetitive jobs to do in the office, working in the rain and the burning sun etc.

It was the first time I had been abroad alone, without any friends or contacts. I managed well and look forward to doing it again. Although if I went again, I would make more of an effort to learn the local language before hand, because a lot of the time everyone was talking and I had no idea what was going on. It was a bit awkward when they would all laugh about a joke or story and I just sat there like a lemon.

Here's a video of my time there:" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">

Categories: CIRCE Internship

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