An Interview with WiseOceans… Charlotte Andrews from Sea Watch Foundation
This week we chat to…Charlotte who stuck with it after initially not being successful in her application. She volunteered anyway and this helped her land her current position. Another example of the power of persistence!
Name: Charlotte Andrews
Job Title: Sightings Officer Assistant/National Whale and Dolphin Watch Assistant
Organisation: Sea Watch Foundation
- What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
I love the wildlife in the UK, and it seems like a wonderful career to follow. It is hard to ignore all the red flags we constantly hear in the news about global warming and the effect we are having on our planet. To contribute to such a good and urgent cause feels like doing something meaningful but also necessary.
- What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
I studied biochemistry, so to have a background in science has been very helpful. I would say that you shouldn’t be put off if studying isn’t something you’ve done – conservation charities are always keen to get volunteers from lots of different backgrounds involved and this can give you an opportunity to kick start a career in conservation.
- How did you land your current job/position?
After spending some time working in retail and hospitality, I saw the position advertised online, and thought it sounded wonderful! I got in touch and sent off my application straight away! Although I wasn’t immediately offered the position, I was still game to come and spend 3 weeks volunteering here later in the summer, and I was eventually offered the job… so my persistence paid off!
- Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
I really enjoy getting feedback from people who have participated in the National Whale and Dolphin Watch in past years – having someone say to me “welcome to the team!” or “keep up the good work!” really helped me feel welcomed into this wonderful community. I also really enjoy the conversations I have with people who reach out to me and want to get involved in the event this year. It’s great seeing the enthusiasm they bring, and the genuine care and concern they have for our oceans.
- Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
Any effort to promote the protection of such charismatic and curious flagship species feels like ‘making a difference’. Also raising the status and public awareness of the threats that our waters face definitely feels like working towards something much bigger.
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
How much it rains in West Wales! Joking aside, I wish I was less nervous when I first started – the encouragement and support between all the staff and volunteers has been so great.
- Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
As I have been undertaking a predominantly administerial role, I expected to be juggling a lot of spreadsheets at once. I didn’t expect to get the chance to go out on the boats here, but in my time off I’ve tried to go if the weather will permit; I’ve been learning to spot a dolphin and try to guess where it might come up next.
- What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
Volunteering is inevitable in such an underfunded field. Save up, work hard, take opportunities when they come. Don’t be put off by rejected applications, and keep putting yourself out there!
- What is your favourite marine creature and why?
I think it has to be the hydrothermal vent crabs! Surviving and thriving under such extreme conditions! We will have a lot to learn from them if the sea levels keep rising….
- What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
Attempting to surf at Hell’s Mouth, Abersoch, one November…. Snow, lots of wind, a leaking wetsuit… braving such conditions made me realise how much I must love the ocean…I’ll never forget how good it was hugging the radiator when I got back to the hostel though!
Thank you Charlotte – the ‘challenges’ of the British weather seem to be definitely worthwhile – we have such incredible marine life here in the UK. You can help get a snap-shot of UK cetaceans with Sea Watch Foundation’s annual National Whale and Dolphin Watch.