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Kick-start your career in marine biology
Kick-start your career in marine biology

Kick-start your career in marine biology

Alistair Walker first joined HWDT back in 2013 to participate in a Teen Team Research Expedition, he has since returned in May 2016 as a student of marine biology at the Scottish Association of Marine Science University in Oban.  Here, Alistair shares his story:

"I first became aware of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust in 2013 whilst I was still at school. I very much enjoy the outdoor life and am interested in wildlife watching and photography. I was looking for opportunities to volunteer to get some experience in marine conservation, as I was particularly interested in marine creatures and was thinking that maybe in the longer term I could have a career in marine conservation. I live in Braemar in the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland and had already taken up a number of different opportunities to be a conservation volunteer in my local area, but it is a long way from the sea!"

What particularly appealed to Alistair was that the Trust undertake whale and dolphin monitoring surveys for under 18's, which allow for practical skills development and provide the experience needed to begin a career in marine mammal science.

"Most organisations require you to be at least 18, so I could go with HWDT whilst I was still at school. I had a great time on board and saw lots of amazing sea life including basking sharks, dolphins and minke whales. There was lots of marine and coastal birdlife too. It was a huge opportunity to see and take part in the work scientists do at sea. I did acoustic sampling, visual and photographic identification and recording of individual / pods of whales, dolphins, porpoise and basking sharks and their behaviour. I also conducted marine and coastal bird identification and counts.

My trip with HWDT inspired me to do further volunteering and led to trips to Greenland, Arctic Canada, Alaska and the British Virgin Islands. In terms of career plans, I am now at the end of my first year studying Marine Science at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), part of the University of the Highlands and Islands in Oban.

I joined HWDT again on a voyage in 2016, this time on a standard survey. It was a great way to re-energise a few days after university exams! Yet again it was a fantastic trip."

If you're ambition is to pursue a career marine biology and you're interested in joining us aboard to participate in a Teen Team, please click here, for more info.  There is only one berth available for the 2016 field season and is open to a male* aged 16 or 17.  

*The final participant needs to be a male in accordance with HWDTs Child Protection Policy which forbids those under 18 of the same gender sharing a cabin.   

Photo: Alistair during the May monitoring expedition