Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science

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Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Every year on February 11th, the critical role women and girls play in science and technology is recognised by ‘International Day of Women and Girls in Science’. So we wanted to celebrate our amazing female staff and volunteers.

 We’ve spoken to female members of the ORCA team about their different pathways towards working for the charity.

Sally – Director

Where has all the time gone? I can vividly remember the exact location and time when ORCA offered me the post of Director.  It was my dream job - I was over the moon!  Well that was 10 years ago and what a journey it has been. No two days are ever the same. The experiences and memories that ORCA has given me are life changing!

A degree in Marine Biology at Liverpool followed by an MSc in Applied Animal Welfare and Behaviour at Edinburgh University eventually led me to my first close encounter with bottlenose dolphins; studying the stereotypies and stress levels of six dolphins in captivity in Belgium.  A magical couple of months of surveying in the Ligurian Sea, on board IFAW’s ‘Song of the Whale’ led to a permanent role this international wildlife charity.

I’d been working for IFAW for nearly a decade, and had become intrigued about the internal workings of non-profits. This led to a Masters in Business Administration and subsequently a role at the Greater London Authority in the environmental team working as animal welfare advisor to the Mayor of London – including Boris Johnson!

Finally, after two decades of working in the conservation arena, I finally felt that I had the relevant tool kit and knowledge to help nurture this incredible, vibrant and unique NGO with its pool of exceptional talented staff and volunteers, to deliver everlasting good for cetaceans – Oceans Alive with whales and dolphins.

I did not hesitate – I said yes to the best job ever!

Lucy – Head of Science and Conservation / Deputy Director

My career started as a Cardiac Nurse, working in the NHS for 10 years, specialising in Adult Congenital Heart Disease. I had always been fascinated by the marine environment and could no longer ignore it so went back to University to study Zoology, focusing my research on the marine environment.

My journey with ORCA started in September 2012 when I joined a Sea Safari trip across the Bay of Biscay – I was instantly hooked! The ORCA guides were incredible, the experience was unforgettable and in that moment I knew that I had to get involved with this wonderful charity.

I took part in a Marine Mammal Surveyor training course in December 2012, and in March 2013, on the day I handed my dissertation in, I conducted my first ORCA survey on the Newcastle – Amsterdam DFDS ferry route. My Team Leader was so supportive and knowledgeable, and it was amazing to be part of the ORCA survey team, being surrounded by likeminded, passionate individuals.

In May of that year I became an ORCA Wildlife Officer on board Brittany Ferries Cap Finistère. For six months I crossed the Bay of Biscay, collecting scientific data, delivering wildlife presentations and activities to passengers and creating unforgettable wildlife experiences for guests on board. This is where I had some of my most memorable cetacean encounters and experiences. Highlights that stick in my mind include a super pod of common dolphins at sunset - the water looked as if it was boiling, with thousands of dolphins all making a beeline for the ship. The decks were filled with passengers and ‘oohs and aaah ‘were echoing around the deck, smiles beaming from everyone’s faces and to share those unforgettable moments with other people, is what I love best. Then in September 2013, exactly 1 year to the month from my first introduction to the charity, I was lucky enough to get a permanent position at ORCA.

 This will be my seventh year working with ORCA; my role has developed significantly during that time and I have loved every single moment. My current role is Head of Science and Conservation and also Deputy Director. In a nutshell I manage our incredible network of Marine Mammal Surveyors; represent ORCA on several scientific and advisory panels in the UK and Europe; liaise with the ferry and cruise companies regarding survey routes and dates; I am a supervisor on ORCA’s Ship strike PhD research; lead ORCA’s SOEC’s; liaise with researchers and universities to ensure ORCA’s data is utilised to the best ability; train Cruise Conservationists and train bridge crews on large whale avoidance.

As I am sure you can imagine, no two days are the same and there are always new opportunities arising. I can truly say I have my dream job!

Anna – Head of Education

Since starting working at ORCA, not one day has been the same, I love that my job is so varied.  In a week I could have spoken to, and inspired, hundreds of school children, delivered a training course and if I was lucky, spent a few days at sea too, seeing the animals we love and talk about all of the time.

My ORCA journey started in 2013 when I first went on a Sea Safari with my mum and we were lucky enough to spot orca! From this moment I was hooked on whales and dolphins and ORCA’s work! In 2014, I was lucky enough to start working as a Wildlife Officer in the North Sea and spent six fun filled months travelling from Newcastle – Amsterdam on board the DFDS Kings Seaways.  After my time in the North Sea, I moved down to Portsmouth and started working at ORCA HQ as the Education Coordinator.

I have so many highlights from my time working at ORCA. I love seeing children’s eyes light up when I talk to them about how large the blue whale is, or when you show them how sharp a dolphin’s tooth is! I often receive emails after a visit, telling me that the children have not stopped talking about the workshops I have delivered or that they have set up a beach clean or plastic free initiatives in their school. It is so humbling to see the passion I have for these animals passed onto the next generation.

It’s been a brilliant time for me working at ORCA and I hope to continue my journey for many years, inspiring people from all walks of life about these awe inspiring animals that I am so passionate about.

Emily – Supporter Development Coordinator

Since starting at ORCA HQ in January 2018, I have had some unique and incredible opportunities no two days have been the same - from watching common dolphins leaping in the Mediterranean sun to wading through mud at Birdfair or teaching children how baleen whales feed!

This is something I had never thought I would have done and it surprises many people when I tell them my background is in fact in musical theatre and not marine biology!

After graduating from Chichester University in 2013 with a degree in Music with Musical Theatre, I worked as a Development Officer in a theatre. I had always had a passion and enthusiasm for whales and dolphins for as long as I can remember, so when I saw the Supporter Development Coordinator job advertisement for ORCA, I knew it wasn’t an opportunity I could pass up! Three years on, I have had experiences I could never have imagined and have learnt so much more about whales and dolphins.  Highlights which I will never forget include watching sperm whales breaching and tail slapping alongside the P&O Cruise ship Azura, to the delight of guests, who left their sunbeds to watch the spectacle!

It’s been an incredible journey since I first came to ORCA and one that I hope will continue for many years, with more unforgettable experiences and opportunities to inspire people about these fascinating creatures and how ORCA work to protect them.  

Holly – Operations and Logistics Officer

I joined ORCA in 2017, as a Level 2 Business Administration apprentice, and after passing the course followed this with a Level 3. ORCA have been so supportive with my learning and helped me gain the skills and knowledge I needed to pass my apprenticeship. I passed my Level 3 in November 2019 and ORCA then gave me a very exciting opportunity and took me on full time as the Operations and Logistics Officer.

I have had some brilliant opportunities over the past few years including speaking to members of the public and telling them all about our work at Birdfair, travelling across the Bay of Biscay on a Sea Safari mini cruise and helping out with the Marine Mammal Surveyor courses, training members of the public to be citizen scientists.

I will never forget my time with ORCA and am proud to be part of such an amazing charity.