Growing up beside the sea meant that the beach was and still is my favourite place to be. I was always fascinated by the little beasties that lived in the rock pools and nibbled at your toes when you went paddling and I would quite happily spend hours turning over rocks and gazing out to sea hoping to see something bigger…something dolphin like. The fascination with dolphins lead to my parents adopting one of the WDC dolphins (Rainbow) for me for my tenth birthday and in turn this lead to my first dolphin sighting up at Chanonry point that summer. To say I was hooked would be an understatement!
I got involved with WDC as a Shorewatch Volunteer in Nairn in June 2012. I had just left school and was looking for something to do over the summer. I didn’t want to spend my last summer before university working full time so I started looking for voluntary positions. I spotted the Shorewatch training advert in our local paper, got in touch and got involved. After a move for university in September 2012, I now live and watch in the bottlenose dolphin capital of Scotland – Aberdeen – and love every minute of it.
Wind back a few months and in early 2012 I was introduced to the Saltire award scheme. Saltire is a Scottish Government initiative to encourage young people between the ages of 12 and 25 to volunteer in their local communities. I would encourage any young volunteers to sign up for Saltire, it is a great way to keep track of what you are doing and get recognition for your excellent contributions! In September 2015 I achieved my 500 hour award for hours undertaken between 2009 and 2015 with various organisations including WDC.
Through volunteering with WDC I have been able to do something I love at a time that works in with my studies and I have learnt a lot doing it. I have met some brilliant people and have had an immense amount of fun working with the other volunteers. The amazement in the eyes of the children we speak to, in Aberdeen especially, when they see dolphins leap out of the water is a feeling that will never get old. I will never forget the first time I saw dolphins bow ride out on a boat, to say I got a little bit excited and got a few weird looks from passers-by would be an understatement. I think it is fair to say that volunteering with WDC has become a part of my life which I really enjoy and as long as I live by the sea…or remotely near it, I will continue watching for the smallest hint of a tail or a fin…
Images copyright Abigail Hay