Tuesday 26 July 2016
A wonderful unexpected journey
By Simone Fick
Travelling to Namibia I had no idea what was in store for me. Even though it’s not so far from home, I had never been there, so it was going to be a whole new experience. When you hear about Namibia, you think desert, lots of sand and hot days, but I was greeted with so much more! Misty mornings and the Moon landscape, Sossusvlei with canyons, Naukluft Nature reserve with waterfalls and green mountain trails, and that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of everything this beautiful country has to offer. One other big thing that made this journey amazing was the people in the community and the project. I travel around a lot and constantly meet new people and the small communities always amaze me. Almost everyone is friendly and willing to help which really contributes to your experience, whether it be canoeing with seals, driving through the dunes, joining the wildlife cruises to collect data tour boats and travelling on a glassy ocean while working.
Even though I’ve worked previously on projects with marine mammals, there’s always something new to learn. If it’s your first project and you’re lucky enough to do it with the Namibian DolphinProject, I would say it’s an excellent choice. They teach you the valuable skills used in the industry and it definitely is a life changing experience. Early, misty morning starts for boat launches to find the Heaviside’s and Bottlenose dolphins, collecting photo-ID and behavioural data, the odd penguin or Mola mola showing itself now and again, seals providing entertainment every day and if you’re in the right season, whales! You come to love photo ID matching and to see how individuals change over the years. You might have to save a seal or dolphin now and again, where you can feel the difference you make by saving that animals life! All this research makes a difference to animals and nature, and you can be a part of it. Again, these are just a few of the many wonderful things you can learn, skills you build up and life changing experiences you get from joining the project.
I can honestly say it was an unexpected wonderful journey, made possible by people with the same love for animals and science. Some of the team members I only know from friendly emails and then Barry, the only Irish I know in Walvis Bay, who showed me all they do and how to do it, thank you for the skills and memories. I hope to work with this Project in the future again.