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Spey Bay Adventure

Sadie Gorvett (Education Intern) recalls her most memorable times as an intern at the Scottish Dolphin Centre.

My name is Sadie and for the past 8 months I have been one of the education interns at the Scottish Dolphin Centre in Spey Bay. Every year the centre recruits 6 interns to help deliver the array of tours, talks and events they offer both at the centre and across north east Scotland and I can truly say it has been the best 8 months of my life so far.

As an education intern I have had the opportunity to engage and inspire hundreds of children through fun and interactive activities both during school visits and through our holiday kids clubs. The best part of the role was working with my fellow intern Emily to plan exciting new activities to connect children to nature and discuss sometimes challenging topics in a fun and inspiring way. There is nothing more fulfilling than knowing you have sparked a passion for wildlife which may last a lifetime.

Although the work has been invaluable experience to further my career in environmental education the most exciting and memorable times for me have been the adventures we have had along the way. Working and living with the same people can be a challenge, but you get to know each other so well in such a short space of time, it becomes like another family and every family has times of strain and disagreement but I can honestly say the friends I have made will not be able to get rid of me… even if they want to!

So here’s my top 10 most memorable moments…

10. Climbing my first Corbett and Munro

I love going for walks, exploring new places and seeing what amazing wildlife we can spot. What I don’t like are hills. So climbing a Corbett (a mountain of between 2,500 and 3000 feet high) and a Munro (a mountain of over 3000 feet high) were not on the top of my ‘to do’ list when coming to Scotland… but did that stop the girls dragging me up not one, but two mountains? No it did not. But I must say, although at times the mountain seemed like it was just going on and on, when I finally made it to the top it was a great accomplishment for me. I can actually say I did it!

9. Isle of Harris

Emma and Anna (Shorewatch Interns) had a site visit on Harris for Big Watch Weekend, at the same time I had 3 days off. So Emma had this bright idea that I tag along. The idea arose at midnight the night before they were leaving. Luckily this very uncharacteristically spontaneous trip worked out fabulously with me seeing my first common dolphins and white tailed eagles and I stayed in my first hostel!

8. Ceilidh stomp

Wow! Firstly, local band Footerin Aboot are fab! We went to a gig they did in Garmouth and this was my first introduction to Ceilidh dancing and it was amazing. The atmosphere, community spirit and the dancing made it a night to remember. I must say I did get dizzy…. very dizzy but it was totally worth it.

7. North 58

I was lucky enough to win 4 free tickets for a boat trip with North 58 and even luckier to have actually seen dolphins while on this boat trip, though only for the last 5 minutes of the 2 hour trip. But it was incredible seeing the same dolphins we see from the shore, so close.  The number of calves we spotted was heart-warming, especially when they poked their little faces out the water and gave a tail slap. The most exciting moment for me though was seeing Spirtle, the female dolphin who survived severe sunburn while being stranded in May 2016.

6. Lossiemouth cycle challenge

In week 2 Anna and I set ourselves a challenge – to cycle to Lossiemouth and back again. Having not cycled for years this was quite a challenge for us, one that we did not meet until August. We decided we would not only cycle to Lossie but camp overnight before cycling back, this had nothing to do with knowing we’d be worn out after cycling there, honest. 

 5. A hidden gem of Moray – Primrose Bay

Primrose Bay is one of our favourite places to go to spend a sunny afternoon and have a swim in the refreshingly cold North Sea and of course making sand sculptures! 

4. Cosy movie/games nights

These are some of the funniest times I’ve had while being here, just lounging on the sofa with good friends, drinking, snacking and watching Disney movies or playing games. Of course these would always morph into dancing and singing nights but hey, we need something to laugh about in the morning. 

3. Braemar

We were lucky enough to have a couple of days off together so we went on an adventure to Braemar in the Cairngorms. We climbed mountains (you all know how much I love doing that) swam in the rivers and explored the local villages. It was lovely to be able to spend time together away from work and enjoy a different part of Scotland. 

2. Wildlife

I cannot come to the best place in the world to see cetaceans and not have it as one of my top most memorable moments. I have to mention our popular Bottlenose dolphins – we were quite lucky this year in seeing dolphins regularly early on in the season with sightings almost every day. Most exciting for me was seeing my favourite dolphin, Mischief. Minke Whales and Harbour Porpoise were another regular sighting for us, especially when visiting Burghead.

The most incredible and worrying sightings have to be that of Sperm Whales and Long-Finned Pilot Whales which made their way into the Moray Firth. Although spectacular to see, this was a concerning time for us due to the chance of a mass stranding. Luckily the 6 juvenile Sperm Whales made their way back out to deeper waters a few hours after being sighted, while the 30 Pilot Whales only lost one of their pod to a stranding (sad but a better outcome than a mass stranding, which these cetaceans are prone to).

Of course, it’s not just cetaceans that I’ve seen since coming here. My biggest goal while here was to see a wild otter and within 2 months of arriving I did just that! 

The array of wildlife around Scotland is incredible and you just never know what you’re going to see next. From our popular Bottlenose Dolphins to the more shocking sight of Sperm Whales, these 8 months have definitely been full of spectacular sightings.

1. Finally my top most memorable moment or moments – CAMPING and BEACH FIRES

I had never camped prior to coming to Spey Bay. I never thought it’d be something I’d enjoy, being a person who likes comfy beds and warm duvets. But when living with Emily camping was inevitably going to happen, and I am so glad it did.  Spending the night outside next to the sea, under the stars, swinging in a tree is so much fun, especially when you combine that with storytime, which became a tradition for camping. I must say I much prefer hammocking to camping on the hard ground, but spending the night at Burghead, lying on what you’d think would be soft thick grass awaiting Minke whales (which never came) watching the sunset was incredible. One of the most memorable hammocking experiences though has to be just along the river outside the centre, where that night I was lucky enough to see my first shooting star. 

Beach fires became a regular occurrence early on in the internship due to the dark evenings. This gave us a good chance to get to know each other better by playing games, talking and enjoy prodding the fire with a poking stick… that might have just been me. Now that it’s October and the evenings are getting dark again, it’s not dampened our spirits as it just means it’s time to get that prodding stick out again and enjoy spending time around a warm fire. 

So that’s it, my top 10 most memorable moments of being an Education Intern at the Scottish Dolphin Centre. I am sorry to see this internship come to an end, I will miss Spey Bay, the centre and everyone I have met here, but of course I still have two weeks left and I intend to make even more memories which I will carry with me forever.