This week we chat to…Enorha Guimard from DMAD (Marine Mammals Research Association) in Turkey. Enorha has volunteered on several projects that have helped her land the job she does today. She recommends taking every opportunity that comes your way, no matter how big or small, and you have the chance to build a network that can help you pursue the career of your dreams.
Name: Enorha Guimard
Job Title: Research Associate
Organisation: DMAD – Marine Mammals Research Association
- What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
I have a passion for nature, the ocean and marine mammals for as long as I can remember. The first time I saw a whale was in Canada in the St Lawrence river with a bunch of fin whales very close to the coast. They were with us for more than an hour and I was just there watching them from the land with no impact on them. Every evening I used to go to this spot to watch them and they were always there. It was one of the most beautiful experiences with marine mammals so far and I remember how peaceful it was to be with them and just watch them. This is when I decided I wanted to study marine mammals.
- What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
When I was at university, I volunteered as much as possible firstly in the Mediterranean Sea, where I did an expedition, in Africa and another volunteering programme in Montenegro with the association I’m working with now.
- How did you land your current job/position?
After volunteering in Montenegro and Turkey, I kept in touch with the researcher and founder of the DMAD association Dr Aylin Akkaya. After finishing my master degree in wildlife management in Montpellier (France), I contacted her and asked if I can be part of her staff. This is how I got the job in the DMAD Turkey office.
- Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy a lot of aspects of my job but being able to contribute to conservation, to inspire people and to teach volunteers and interns about marine mammals is the part I really love.
- Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
Being part of the research, that DMAD is contributing in order to set up conservation strategies and being able to communicate this work and help other people to learn about whales and dolphins make me feel that I’m doing a difference. In Turkey, there is a huge lack of knowledge of marine mammals in the area and with DMAD I’m able to contribute to making people understand the importance of protecting those animals by our research and our interaction with local people.
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
It’s well known that marine mammal conservation is a competitive field but I realized that this is far less intimidating that you think. For me the most important thing is to build a network. When you ask people for help, advice, or show interest in their research you have a chance to get a foot in the door.
- Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
I realized how important it is to have good skills in verbal communication, and being able to transmit your knowledge to people outside of the scientific field. This is so important when you want to talk about conservation and inspire people.
- What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
My advice is don’t hesitate to talk with people working in marine mammal conservation. Take any opportunities that come your way, travel, and volunteer so you can get more experience as much as possible. One day you will meet people who will give you your chance.
- What is your favourite marine creature and why?
I would say my favourite marine creature is the humpback whale. I have never had the opportunity to see one but I’m convinced that I will see them one day. For me humpbacks are the most majestic and intelligent animals, they just fascinate me.
- What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
I have had a lot of unforgettable moments in the sea and they were all so amazing. But what I remember the most was when I was doing my first expedition in the western Mediterranean Sea, the sea state was perfect and a group of more than 30 Risso’s dolphins surrounded our boat and spent more than 30 mins around us. I have never forget this moment.