Beautiful Ocean Encounters, Fun and Hard Work
July 22, 2019

by Saskia Schmole

Before I even left Germany, to start my internship with Nature’s Valley Trust, I struggled for 6 months to get the 5 months visa and I spent a lot of energy, time and money on it. So, all I could think about was “I hope it´s all going to be worth it”. And what can I say, it was more than worth it!

I was hoping to learn more about whales and dolphins, which is why I requested to be part of the marine team based in Plettenberg Bay. Not only did I learn more about whale and dolphin behaviour, but I also got the chance to observe them at least 3 days a week, sometimes even up close from our research boat “Fluke”. Being out on the ocean is one of my favourite places on earth and having the opportunity to learn more about boat maintenance, being on the water and what it means to do boat-based research was one of the most amazing opportunities I could imagine. But it does not stop there. Being outdoors and watching the ocean for 6 hours a day is honestly the best job I can imagine having.

One of my biggest goals was to publish a scientific paper. Nature´s Valley Trust gave me the opportunity to have my own project and be responsible for the analysis and writing of a scientific paper on elasmobranch egg cases.

Whenever there was time next to my two main projects, I had the opportunity to participate in other projects run by NVT, such as bird ringing and the marine debris project. NVT offers the opportunity to get an insight into how a non-profit organisation is run.

All this and of course the great NVT team make Nature´s Valley Trust a special organisation and this experience really stands out from all the work opportunities I have had so far. Dr Mark Brown and the NVT team made me feel welcome and at home right from the beginning and throughout all my time here.

Writing this blog actually makes me sad because it means that my time here has come to an end. I have never in my life experienced 5 months passing so quickly. I am so thankful for all the opportunities and learning achievements during my time with Nature´s Valley Trust. After a few weeks and adjusting to the work, I felt right at home and I am even more certain that this is the work field I want to spend the rest of my life working in. Surrounded by beautiful mountains, the ocean and lots of nature and forests, I can hardly imagine a more beautiful and stunning place than Plettenberg Bay, Nature´s Valley and the surrounding area. This place and all the beautiful ocean encounters also gave me a chance to work on my creativity and my paintings got inspired by everything I saw. I can say for certain, that I spent every second of my time here doing what I love, whether it was in my free time painting, beach clean-ups and exploring the area or at work with beautiful ocean encounters, lots of fun and hard work.

Nature´s Valley Trust gave me the opportunity to do what I love for 5 months and I am thankful for every second I got to spend working, learning and gaining experience in this beautiful environment. I would definitely recommend working with NVT to everyone who loves being in and working with nature and who enjoys being part of a team of passionate conservationists.

NVT provided an internship with everything I could have wished for and more!

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