Smiling Seal - Seal Rescue Ireland

This week on ‘An Interview with WiseOceans’ we spoke to Brigitte Walsh from Seal Rescue Ireland

Role: Assistant Animal Care Manager

Company: Seal Rescue Ireland

Top Tip: Internships are a great way of gaining experience

Quick Fire Questions

1. What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation? 

Ever since I was young, I have always been interested in everything animal related, being outdoors and trying to make a difference. It was my first dive in Cuba, where I was introduced to the wonders of the ocean. It was a completely different world and I wanted to know more. I achieved a Bachelor’s degree in Earth and Ocean Science from NUI, Galway after which I pursued hands-on experience with marine mammals both at home in Ireland and abroad

2. What steps did you take or are you currently taking to achieve your career goals?

Working with marine mammals and specifically the rehabilitation of marine mammals has been my primary goal in life. During school and university, I volunteered as much as I could to get experience in this field and I also dedicated my extra time to attaining my diving certificate which I know will be a lifelong hobby of mine.

While I am working in my dream job, I keep myself as educated about my role and about marine mammals as possible so that I can continue to grow and develop my talents and skills for the future

3. How did you obtain your current position? 

I was lucky enough to be taken on as an Animal Care and Conservation Intern to rescue, rehabilitate and release seals in 2018 with Seal Rescue Ireland. It was an amazing experience. I gained some lifelong friends (both human and seal) and incredible hands-on experience caring for small seal pups. From there, I kept in touch with management and an opening came about for an Assistant Animal Care Manager July 2020. I jumped at the chance and have not looked back since

4. Which part of your job do you enjoy the most? 

There are a few things that I enjoy the most. Working with similar minded people who are enthusiastic and passionate about their work is something I am constantly inspired by.

Caring for sick and injured animals, which is tough but watching the end result is all worth it. I also love seeing the different personalities that emerge as their health increases. Each animal is unique and a little bit quirky

5. Are there aspects of your position which make you feel that you are really ‘making a difference’? 

Being able to translate the passion we have for our work to the public is a huge achievement. Watching our guests/visitors learn about their local environment and how they can help in the future makes me realise the impact we have on people and how we can inspire change! Also seeing a pup come into our centre at their very worst and then being released at full health, is so rewarding

6. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?  

That this journey is your own so have fun going in different directions and going on adventures to see where your passion lies

7. Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did?

Interpersonal skills – educating the public about what you do and how they can help is a huge skill especially when you are working with a non-profit organisation.

Languages – A lot of projects are abroad and will lead you to different countries! There is huge diversity in marine science. You will be surrounded by people from all over the world who have an interest in the same thing you do, and it is beneficial to learn as many languages as you can!

8. What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?  

Explore your passion, volunteer/intern in different areas for different projects and don’t be afraid of changing direction. It is never too late to get into your dream job!

9. What is your favourite marine creature and why?

Humpback whales. I have been lucky enough to swim with humpback whales in the wild and listen to their deep and beautiful songs. Honestly, I could spend hours floating in the water listening to them and watching them swim with an elegance that belies their considerable size. In addition, I have also been lucky enough to see the affection between a mother whale and her calf. They are so curious, and it is lovely to see them come over and check you out before going on their way again!

10. What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?

I was working on an island in Queensland, Australia called Lady Elliott Island. It was here where I first swam with a melanistic manta ray and a humpback whale with her calf. I have never felt as giddy in the water as when I saw these creatures. I will still remember that moment and break out into a smile!

Explore your passion, volunteer/intern in different areas for different projects and don’t be afraid of changing direction. It is never too late to get into your dream job!

Brigitte Walsh

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