• Holiday work experience

    by  • February 5, 2015 • Announcements, Volunteers • 0 Comments

    Working at the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre has always been a dream of mine. When I first visited the centre I was amazed not only by the displays and activities, but by the environment and atmosphere of the centre. The work experience was so amazing that I’m not sure I can summarise it. Instead, I am going to let you know you what I did and what happened each day I was working there.

    Day 1:

    Wednesday 6th January

    On the first day I turned up and they gave me a uniform to wear (which was a little big). I met all of the staff and volunteers that worked there and looked around the place. Then I began my tasks for the day: cleaning the windows, wiping down tables, daily tank checks, helping people who had any questions, and just generally walking around, fixing things up.

    Day 2:

    Thursday 7th JanuaryP1080003

    On the second day I was invited to attend a snorkel. I helped the guests out with wetsuit and snorkel mask fitting and transporting the wetsuits from the back room to the front tables. We then walked down to Shelly’s beach and I helped the people while they were snorkelling in the water (there were 11 snorkelers). We saw hundreds of awesome things such as nudibranchs, zebra fish, waratah anemones and a wobbegong!! Afterwards I helped wash and hang up the wetsuits as well as feeding the fish (and octopus) live crabs.

    Day 3:

    Friday 8th January

    The third day was a Friday and there were more staff to help with the crowds. On this day I learned a lot because one of the staff members came and took me around the beach discovery table and we tried to name everything on the table (which was a little difficult but really fun). After that I was able to paint a bioluminescent jellyfish in the new Deep Sea exhibit which was done by using a projector and glow in-the-dark paint. I also fed the fish live crabs and hand fed the crayfish (he is a bit slow).

    Day 4:

    Saturday 9th January

    On this day there was a snorkel at Shelly’s beach. It was not the best weather because it was drizzly and cold, but we went anyway. The visitors who came snorkelling were very friendly and we saw heaps of fish and some very interesting looking jellyfish.

    P1080019Day 5:

    Monday 11th January

    On this day I helped with putting up photos and other basic maintenance (like vacuuming). I painted another jellyfish in the deep sea exhibit and fed the fish. The staff were happy to talk to me about what courses they did in UNI because I feel that one of my major career paths will be marine education or environmental education. I have seen the impact the marine discovery centre has on visitors and I want to be the person who makes that impact. I want to be the person that makes people have more understanding of the environment (particularly the ocean). I want to be the person to see the look of wonder on the children’s faces when the find out just how amazing the ocean can be.

    Day 6:

    Wednesday 13th January

    Today I decided that I wanted to make things better. I walked around the centre and took note of what I thought could be improved. I also helped out some visitors who didn’t know what crayfish eat and I found out that they actually eat algae that are in amongst the kelp and sea urchins. I also researched some of the animals that I saw when I was out snorkelling and found that the centre has some amazing books on marine life. I helped in the art section with making plaster (which I wasn’t very good at). When I was doing the tank checks I noticed that one of the spider crabs was missing and that there was a Port Jackson egg in the third tank. I got to help the visitors with the touch tank which was really fun. My favourite animal to demonstrate Rowan pics 001was the waratah anemone, but most people liked the eight armed sea star better. For the feeding today the staff decided to try and train Missy (the octopus) to open a jar to get her food. I was able to put the jar into her tank and have a nice handshake while I was at it. It turned out to be a partial failure because Missy was more interested in the people than the food!!

    Day 7:

    Thursday 14th January

    In the morning, Kerryn, the Centre Manager, conducted a Rocky Shore Ramble which was really fun. We found nudibranchs, shore crabs, good algae for the elephant snail to eat and even little baby chitons. When we got back to the centre I emptied the algae and some little crabs into the baby tank while putting the bigger crabs into the third tank. After this I started my project which was to firstly, rearrange the signs on the big tanks so that the right signs are over the right tanks. To make the signs over the tanks more interesting I made a ‘Can you find’ sign to go with it; so it was kind of like a treasure hunt. I also supervised the touch tank a number of times and made a sign for the Port Jackson shark egg. A family came in that said they took a picture of a starfish and they didn’t know what type it was so I asked the Jillian, the Marine Education Officer, to help identify it. I also helped a boy who wanted more information on sperm whales.

    Day 8:

    Friday 15th January

    Friday was my last day working at the Marine Discovery Centre. I decided that I wanted to make it count. Firstly, I wanted to improve the baby tank in the hallway so that it was easier to manage and looked better. I moved the laminated signs from the white table to above the tank by moving the shearwater posters closer to the migration section of the wall as well as the individual migrations (sharks, turtles and other migratory birds). I also identified the baby catfish that Jillian brought in from when Rowan pics 003she was catching shrimp for the cuttlefish. I had to fish one out of the tank and put it in a white bucket to photograph it. We think it is an estuary catfish but since they were premature we couldn’t be sure. I created a sign for it and used the photograph for the sign. I was also determined to find out approximately when the Port Jackson egg was going to hatch so I spent some time researching a university paper on embryo development for the Port Jackson shark. Jillian and I determined that the egg was around 4-6 months old and therefore had about 5 more months to go before it will hatch (around June-July). I was having so much fun I forgot to have lunch.

    Rowan pics 002

    Being helpful and part of a team is only one part of the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre. The other part is loving it so much that you never want to leave. I was originally planning on working at the centre from Wednesday to Friday (which I somewhat extended) for two weeks at the end of the Christmas holidays but I loved it so much I spent the remainder of my holidays (including the weekends) working at the Centre. I found the staff, volunteers and even the visitors really supportive towards my work experience and I found that I never wanted to leave. For the first time I realised that this is what work experience is about. It is not about doing something simply to put on your resume. It is not about doing something just because everyone else is. It is about doing something you love and enjoy more than anything else in the world. Working at the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre made me realise working with these amazing people in this amazing environment is something I love and enjoy more than anything else in the world. Every time I go there I learn something new and amazing. Sometimes about the animals. Sometimes about the people. Sometimes about myself.


    Marine Education Officer for the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre. A qualified marine scientist and educator with a Bachelor degree in Global and Ocean Science obtained from the Australian National University and a Graduate Diploma in Science Communication.


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