This week we’re with Will Brown up in the stunning Moray Firth in Scotland. Will’s advice is that hard work really does pay off, oh and guess what, how important good statistical and mathematical skills!

Name: Will Brown

Job Title: Research Assistant

Organisation: Cetacean Research & Rescue Unit (CRRU)

  • What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?

I have been fascinated by wildlife all my life but my particular interest in marine conservation developed fairly recently. This was kick-started when I visited the CRRU for the first time in 2013 as a volunteer before I started University. I was then able to see first-hand the amazing research that could be undertaken on marine animals as well as have an opportunity to see them up close.

  • What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?

I’ve just completed a BSc in Zoology at the University of Exeter with a year abroad in Canada. I’m now about to start an MSc in Marine Mammal Science at the University of St Andrews. In the last few years I’ve also taken part in several volunteer roles to get field experience including with Operation Wallacea in the Peruvian Amazon; with the RSPB on the Isles of Scilly and with a relatively new NGO called PROCETUS in Mexico studying Fin Whales.

  • How did you land your current job/position? 

Firstly through staying in contact with the staff at CRRU whilst I was at University. This then allowed them to see how I’d developed as a person as well be aware of my new love for marine conservation.

  • Which part of your job do you enjoy the most?  

I love being out in the field on the research boat. However, data analysis can also be very enjoyable, in particular fin identification work where you get to identify the dolphins you’ve seen on previous surveys.

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

I feel that ALL of the work I do with CRRU makes a difference. This is particular down to their continued perseverance to utilise the data they collect, especially in terms of publishing scientific papers and contributing to the protection of local species.

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

That hard work really does pay off, and going the extra mile to reach your goal can make all the difference.

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

Being able to cook for yourself and others can be very useful. Especially when you need to feed a hungry group of volunteers after a long day of surveying.

  • What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?  

Learn your animals, good identification skills can be really useful, and if possible practice in the field. Also, although it’s difficult, learn to love mathematics, having good statistical and mathematical skills can really set you apart from others and is often a requirement for jobs in marine conservation.

  • What is your favourite marine creature and why?  

The fin whale. Having been privileged to be surrounded by them in Mexico it was impossible not to love them.

  • What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?  

When a blue whale decided to swim straight under our small boat in Mexico, dwarfing it and us in size.


Thank you Will, some super advice in there and great to hear about your experiences – we’re rather envious of your blue whale encounter.

You can join CRRU as a volunteer or on one of their courses to gain some worth while experience.  There one place left on their last CRRU Summer Field Course of the seasons so book now!

Don’t forget to sign up to our weekly job alert emails and keep an eye on our Wise Work pages so you don’t miss your dream opportunity in more marine conservation.