Having sent my application to become an intern at Wembury Marine Centre, I would sit on the other side of the world and visit the website repeatedly. As my time at the Centre draws towards a close, I sit in the office and edit the same website to update events, promote my own events, and of course to post this blog. Aside from expanding my knowledge of the rocky shore, I have acquired many other skills. Perhaps the most valuable skill being communication with the public – communication with hordes of children (presenting to up to ninety at a time in their school hall, and groups of thirty on the beach), communication with adults visiting the beach and at various showgrounds, and my personal favourite, learning how to communicate with families as a whole. From having this experience with portraying information to the public, I am no longer daunted by such a prospect, but instead am keen to build on this ability to promote community engagement, whether through further volunteering or eventually through employment.
Whilst all consistently enjoyable, a few rockpooling sessions particularly stood out during the season: the first time that the other intern, Freyja, and I spotted our first strawberry anemone, Actinia fragacea, in the flesh having only studied it in ID guides at university prior to this; the day that I spotted, caught and stared at my first ever Cornish clingfish, Lepadogaster purpurea, was taught how to identify a corkwing wrasses’ nest, Symphodus melops, noticed the iridescence on submerged Irish moss, Chondrus crispus, and came across fish fry navigating their rockpool with fluorescent orange eyes; the day we received a tip-off and ran outside with binoculars to spot a grey seal, Halichoerus grypus; the day I uncovered my first squat lobster, Galathea squamifera, and identified a tompot blenny, Parablennius gattorugine; the day I found a common hermit crab, Pagarus bernhardus, inhabiting the remains of a much broken (to the point of being unidentifiable) shell, lifted a stone to find a shore crab, Carcinus maenas, burrowing itself into the sediment next to its moult, happened across – and identified – my first Montagu’s blenny, Coryphoblennius galerita, tried to contain my excitement at suspecting a photo taken by one of the part-time volunteers proved the presence of a St Piran’s hermit crab, Clibanarius erythropus, at our beach (and in our county!), and later had this excitement upped by being revisited by the grey seal…the following day I was able to hold one of the St Piran’s crabs with identity confirmed.
I am certain that I will return to the centre as a part-time volunteer. Assisting on future events will be a pleasure, being able to reconnect with those that work at the centre as well as any other part-time volunteers that I will be lucky enough to work with on the day.
Thank you for such a wonderful and interesting experience.