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Harbour porpoise. Image: Charlie Phillips/WDC

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A Fantastic Season and a Farewell to the Scottish Dolphin Centre’s Residential Volunteers

It has been a truly fantastic season here at Spey Bay! There have been dolphins a plenty treating all of us newbies to some exceptional displays. From wee tiny calves to groups of adolescent teens, all have been showing off their immense power and strength when breaching and doing somersaults out of the water. However it has not just been bottlenose dolphins that a few of us have been lucky to spot from Spey Bay. At the beginning of the season Sara, residential guide and conservation volunteer, saw a couple of shy harbour porpoise and only the beginning of last month (September) our field officer Charlie Phillips paid us a visit just in time to witness a juvenile minke whale breaching on the horizon. Everyone has enjoyed the 2014 season so much and we are sad that it is now over nevertheless us residential volunteers will not be forgetting Spey Bay in a hurry.

Sara Pearce – Residential Guide and Conservation Volunteer 2014

It has been a very interesting and rewarding 8 months here at WDC’s Scottish Dolphin Centre. I feel that I have been on quite a journey and have come out the other side with better knowledge and understanding and a fuelled passion for ecology, sustainability and the environment. Trying to choose a highlight is quite a difficult task, there have been so many.  We have some fantastic volunteers in the Shorewatch program; their enthusiasm is refreshing and admirable. The ferry crossing from Ullapool to Stornoway certainly sticks in my mind as there were so many cetaceans to see!

Kristina Hixon – Residential Guide and Education Volunteer 2014

I was born and raised in Devon (about as far away as you can get from Spey Bay and still be on the mainland!) so I always find myself drawn to the coast. Living in NE Scotland has been a new experience for me, but one that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Spey Bay is an amazing place to see wildlife, not just the bottlenose dolphins (although they are brilliant), but osprey, seals and everything in between too. I’ve discovered over recent years that I’m a people person so this volunteer placement has definitely allowed me to meet plenty of people as well! Everyone I’ve met and all the people I’ve worked with here at the Scottish Dolphin Centre have made the last eight months something that I’ll remember for a very long time.

Fiona Hill – Residential Guide and Conservation Volunteer 2014

The past 8 months have been amazing and jam-packed with adventure! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching the colours and sounds at Spey Bay change over the months, whilst picking up lots of wildlife knowledge along the way. I can safely say I’ve travelled more of Scotland than I have of England now! I owe huge thanks to all the Shorewatchers for not only being so welcoming but for their infectious passion for their local areas.  There truly are some amazing spots in Scotland; I’ve loved every site I’ve visited. I’m not sure I could pick a favourite moment, from cetacean watching in glorious sunshine at Stoerhead, to summer beach fires at Spey Bay, spotting a pine marten in the forest and snowy mountain climbing in the cairngorms… I’ve had a blast!

Laura Howarth – Residential Guide and Education Volunteer 2014

Well just like my fellow volunteers, I honestly can’t believe that it’s the end of the season here at the Scottish Dolphin Centre and I can say with my hand on my heart that I’ve enjoyed every second of being a residential volunteer for WDC. It has been a privilege being in such a beautiful place and there are worse jobs you can have than looking out for dolphins every day! Being able to share moments with visitors when they spot dolphins, particularly if it’s the first time they’ve seen them is an amazing thing. But most of all I’ve thoroughly loved being part of the education team; it has been great working with community groups and schools through giving talks and visits to the centre. Interacting with the kids and seeing their exuberance and wonder at the world around us has always been fun and never failed to leave me exhilarated at the end of the day. Working at Spey Bay has given back my passion for nature and for wildlife and there is no better memory of thinking of all the people that I’ve engaged with; hoping that they’ve too had their interest sparked in the amazing cetaceans that can be seen just on our doorstep

Aimee Burrows- Residential Guide and Events Volunteer 2014

These past 8 months have been spectacular! I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Being able to watch dolphins as part of my job has been a privilege and has led to the decision that I am not willing to leave the sea behind so I am staying in Scotland. I have seen so many new things in the past 8 months from harbour porpoise, ospreys, red squirrels, crested tits and crossbills just to name a few. With Scotland being so rich in wildlife there is so much still left to discover and I can’t wait for that to happen! Out of the whole season my personal highlight has been my event Pirate Day which happened way back in August. Any excuse to dress up and act like a kid all day! It was something that had never been done before and it is now coming back as an annual event! I am going to miss all of the other residential volunteers when they head home as for the past 8 months we have become a little family but on the other hand I am excited for what the rest of Scotland will bring and for continued dolphin watching!

Thank you to all of you who visited the Scottish Dolphin Centre over the 2014 season, we are already looking forward to next season and to lots more dolphin activity! See you next year!

About George Berry

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