This week we chat to…Sibéal Regan, the Education and Outreach Officer at the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group in Ireland. Sibéal has been passionate about conservation all her life and now loves sharing that passion with others and helping them learn about whales and dolphins. Her advice is to be open minded, determined, and resilient but don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help.
Name: Sibéal Regan
Job Title: Education and Outreach Officer
Organisation: Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG)
- What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
I have had a passion, love and curiosity for nature, biodiversity, and our oceans for as long as I can remember. My first-time whale watching was in West Cork with less than ideal sea conditions, the rain and choppy sea turned most people off the trip, but my eyes were glued to the water. I saw a minke whale. The sighting itself was brief, it was an oddly shaped wave moving in the wrong direction and at the time I didn’t even know that wave was the whale. Hardly something out of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet but it was enough to spark a blubber obsession. I loved being in the wind and the rain, I loved watching the water with excited anticipation and I loved the sense of solace and peace the whole experience gave me. That feeling inspired me to pursue a career in marine mammal observation and conservation and if I can I want to share the blubber obsession with as many people as possible.
- What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
During school and college, I volunteered as much as possible and tried to gain as much practical experience in the field as I could. Getting out to sea and participating in a broad range of surveys was always a priority for me.
- How did you land your current job/position?
After finishing my degree in GMIT I kept in touch with the IWDG team and continued to actively volunteer. I was fortunate enough that around this time the group were planning on building their capacity and wanted to create a more strategic education and outreach programme when the group approached me for the position I jumped at the opportunity.
- Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy multiple aspects of my job but being able to contribute to conservation and inspire other people to become engaged with ocean literacy is at the top of the list. I enjoy interacting with people from different backgrounds and am constantly inspired by the support I receive from the IWDG team and our members.
- Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’?
Being able to engage with different aspects of cetacean conservation work, like research and mitigation, is hugely rewarding. But being able to communicate this work and help facilitate other people to learn about whales and dolphins, especially young people, feels like a real achievement.
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
Every experience even if it is difficult or challenging has the potential to be positive. Be open to change and ask for help when you need it.
- Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?
Digital Media – I never thought I would need to think about creating content for social media or creating and presenting videos. Turns out it is a large part of education and outreach especially in the COVID-19 world and I really enjoy it.
- What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
Try gain as much practical experience as you can. Be open minded, determined, and resilient but don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help.
- What is your favourite marine creature and why?
It’s hard to narrow it down to a favourite species. I am generally fascinated by all marine creatures, but I do have a soft spot for all cetacean species, turtles, and the impressive invasive species Chinese Mitten Crab.
- What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
I have many unforgettable experiences at sea and thankfully the majority are pretty amazing and positive! But, one moment that stands out as unforgettable was my first trip offshore. I was on board the vessel as a seabird surveyor and was surrounded by a fantastic crew. On this trip I got to not only see some incredible pelagic bird species but also got to see a mix of deep diving whale species for the first time including the very illusive Cuvier’s beaked whale that popped up just a couple of metres away from the vessel during a storm.
Thank you Sibeal, check out our job board for any opportunities with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).