Whilst reflecting upon my experiences of a summer spent at Wembury Marine Centre, I can hardly fathom how much I’ve gained during such a short period of time. Back in June, I embarked upon this internship overflowing with passion for the safeguarding of all things marine. Yet, it’s fair to say I was feeling a little burnt out after three years of studying hard for a Marine Biology Degree. As I write this post a mere four months later, I feel refreshed, rejuvenated and re-motivated to continue on my path in pursuit of a career in Marine Conservation.
Having spent my degree learning about marine life largely from the inside of lecture theatres and laboratories, I was raring for the opportunity to get outside and into the natural environment where I could put my knowledge into practice. From day one, this internship has allowed me to do exactly that. It’s been an absolute delight helping to guide visitors around one of the most spectacular rocky shores in the UK. During rockpool safaris, I’ve repeatedly been amazed by the diversity of our finds whilst wading through the shallow pools and searching under rocks left exposed at high tide – you really never know what you’ll discover. During such sessions, I’ve been lucky enough to have encounters with a huge variety of remarkable creatures. Cornish suckerfish, long-spined sea scorpions, St Piran’s hermit crabs, an orange clubbed sea slug, an Atlantic bobtail squid, and a giant goby just to name a few!
Furthermore, during my time at the Centre, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside many of Devon Wildlife Trust’s dedicated staff and volunteers, whose unparalleled knowledge of British marine life has both inspired me and provided me with an invaluable learning resource. Likewise, through spending time both in the Centre and making visits to schools, I’ve had the absolute pleasure of interacting with countless members of the public from all walks of life. In particular, working with school children has been incredibly rewarding in light of the energy and enthusiasm that they so often bring.
Ultimately, my summer spent here at Wembury has reaffirmed my belief in the importance of community outreach and public education in the fight to prevent the continued degradation of our oceans. Again and again, I have witnessed the astonishment of visitors to the Centre upon learning of the variety of incredible marine organisms that dwell just below the waves, out of sight of most recreational beachgoers. Should this wealth of life be kept a secret, with nobody to fight its corner, it will undoubtedly be allowed to perish. Having witnessed and contributed to this vital work being carried out by Devon Wildlife Trust here at the Centre, I feel reinvigorated in my own endeavours to effect positive change.
Whilst I am sad to be saying goodbye to Wembury and its beautiful surroundings, I am incredibly excited for what now lies ahead. As of this week, I am continuing my academic journey at the University of Plymouth, commencing study for a Master’s Degree in Marine Conservation. My voluntary work here at Wembury has served as the perfect transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study, and I’ll certainly be back very soon to enjoy this special place and to blow off some steam between assignments!