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Risso's dolphin at surface

My lucky number – 13 years studying amazing Risso’s dolphins

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Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

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Risso's dolphin © Andy Knight

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Pilot whales pooing © Christopher Swann

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Fin whale (balaenoptera physalus) Three fin whales Gulf of California.

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A spinner dolphin leaping © Andrew Sutton/Eco2

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Orca (ID171) breaches off the coast of Scotland © Steve Truluck.

Watching whales and dolphins in the wild can be life changing

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New arrivals at The Scottish Dolphin Centre at Spey Bay

Hello! I thought it was about time the new members of the team introduced ourselves. I am Aimee one of the new residential volunteers here at WDC’s Scottish Dolphin Centre in Spey Bay (I say new, we have been here for a month already!) and I along with four others are living next to the River Spey; definitely not a bad view to wake up to in the morning. All five of us will be spending the next eight months up here giving us plenty of time to explore and see lots and lots of dolphins.

 

(From the left) Laura, Fiona, Sara, Aimee and Kristina

I (Aimee) am the Guide and Events volunteer here at the Scottish Dolphin Centre (SDC) where I will be assisting with the planning and delivery of our events such as our big event the Really Wild Festival on the 5th May. I had been to the centre once before when I was little and I remember seeing the salmon jumping out of the water by the river mouth, I didn’t get to see dolphins then though. However after only being here for a week (half an hour before the picture above was taken) I saw my first pod of dolphins of Spey Bay; I felt like a child on Christmas Day. I cannot wait to see more of them when the salmon start to arrive, hopefully will get to catch a glimpse of them breaching too!

 It is amazing to be able to walk out of my house and in one direction there is a beach and in the other the stunning River Spey with an abundance of wildlife. I already have a few favourite spots around the reserve where I can look and try to identify the birds which call this breath-taking place their home. I am now getting quite used to seeing oyster catchers, curlews and greylags just outside the lounge window.  We have been given plenty of training over the past few weeks one of which was I.D. training and I have discovered that I knew a few quirky facts that even our tutor didn’t know and left him almost speechless! Ready for it…. Male mallards don’t actually quack and you can get ginger moles.

We have finished most of our training and now I can’t wait to get stuck in to my new role especially when the centre opens full time on 29th March. Anyway enough about me, I will let the other new residential volunteers tell you about themselves.

 

One of my favourite benches around the centre – © Aimee Burrows

Hi, I’m Sara, I am one of the Guide and Conservation volunteers for 2014. I arrived nearly 4 weeks ago and I love it so far! It is such a beautiful location with an abundance of different wildlife to see. Being here for the next 7 months I will get to witness the change in the landscape and wildlife through the four seasons. It was so exciting to see my first dolphin, and the second time was on my birthday so that was a very special birthday present! Counting myself very lucky, not only for this fantastic opportunity, but that we have seen dolphins and seals already and also we got to witness the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) which was pretty cool! Looking forward to getting stuck in when the centre opens full time from next weekend!

Beautiful sunset at Spey Bay – © Sara Pearce

Hi, I’m Kristina and I am one of the Guide and Education volunteers here and it’s been a busy few weeks. I’m still in the training period, learning lots about the work of WDC, the SDC and how to generally be a good guide and educator. I’ve had my first aid training too so I can now put plasters on grazed knees! It’s a lot of information to take on board but everyone at the SDC is very friendly and helpful and, once the season starts, I’ll soon be getting into the swing of things. I’ve been very lucky because, after being told that most volunteers don’t start seeing dolphins for at least a month after they start, we got to see some the day before my birthday. I also got to see the Aurora borealis (northern lights) that night too; this is a phenomenon that I’ve always wanted to experience so I’m as pleased as punch so far. Along with the other volunteers, I had the chance to meet Charlie Phillips the WDC Adopt A Dolphin Officer. We met him at Chanonry Point, which is well known for being a great spot to see dolphins up close feeding and playing and generally being awesome.

 

At Chanonry Point dolphin watching – © Charlie Phillips

Hello everyone! My name’s Fiona and I am the other Guide and Conservation volunteer here this year. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the month we’ve had here already and still can’t get over how beautiful Spey Bay is! It’s a fantastic place to walk out of our house into every morning, with a view of Ben Rinnes to the left and the River Spey joining the sea on the right. We’ve been kept very busy with lots of training in ID skills, guiding and how to carry out shore watches. We’ve had a great time getting our heads round all the different bird and plant species that we get here at Spey Bay. Aimee’s even made a little quiz to keep us on our toes! Besides all the training we’ve also had lots of time to explore the area and I’m loving being able to be outside for so much of the day. My favourite time of day here is dusk when the whole place is filled with tones of blue. That’s when I most enjoy going out for a run.  I’ve definitely fallen in love with the uncluttered, openness of the Scottish landscape and I can’t wait to explore the more mountainous areas! Tomorrow I leave for a trip along the North Coast with Kila, the Scottish Conservation Officer, to visit some Shorewatch sites and meet the local volunteers. I’m very excited to get stuck into the job properly, visit more places and see all the fantastic wildlife Scotland has to offer.

 

Dusk at Spey Bay – © Fiona Hill

Hiya! I’m Laura and I’m the other education volunteer here at the Scottish Dolphin Centre, I’m still pinching myself that I’m actually here! It’s a beautiful place to live and refreshingly different to city life I’ve been used to. Already I’ve fallen in love with the area; it really feels like home to me after a pretty short space of time and I’ve found the local pubs and clubs so I’m sorted for the rest of my stay haha. I can’t believe I live in a place where that morning you can spot dolphins off the coastline and then watch the Northern lights later on in the evening! I’m feeling very lucky at the moment and I’ve only just begun, I’ve enjoyed learning about the local history and the wildlife that can be found on our front doorstep, I didn’t even realise what is on our shores! I’ve loved everything so far and I’m sure it’s going to get even better as the season begins and we get busier. I’m a total chatterbox and love telling people about the dolphins and other animals we see along this coastline so I’m looking forward to when we are open full time and to what’s coming up like the Really Wild Festival and the schools week in Aberdeen. I can’t wait to get involved in the activities we have planned for our Easter and summer kids clubs, probably because I’m still a big kid myself! If the next seven months are anything like the first month then I know I’m going to carry on having an incredible time at Spey Bay J

 

So much to explore at the Scottish Dolphin Centre© Aimee Burrows

That is all of us and as you can tell we are very excited to be here and if the first month is anything to go by we are going to have a WHALE of a time!

The centre opens full time on the 29th March so why not pop in for a visit as we can’t wait to start meeting visitors and you never know the Moray Firth dolphins may also be visiting Spey Bay too!

About George Berry

George is a member of WDC's Communications team and website coordinator.