An amazing experience with Nature’s Valley Trust
October 29, 2019

by Daniel Jongeling

For my second year of university, I got the opportunity to go abroad for a 2-month internship. With Jappe, a friend of mine, I decided to go to South Africa to join Nature’s Valley Trust’s marine team. 

We had a long, exhausting flight that took over 20 hours. Luckily, our mood immediately changed when we got off the plane and got a glimpse of beautiful South Africa. When we arrived in Plettenberg Bay, we slept long before heading off to our first work day. In the office we immediately got a warm welcome from the marine team and got to know them a little bit, we then left for our first day in the field observing whales and dolphins. 

This fieldwork became our regular job. We went out at least 3 times a week and every time has been an amazing experience. I learnt much about the different species of whales and dolphins in the bay, how the research was done, and most importantly that I would love to do a job like this later in my life.

On days when sea conditions were good, we also got the chance to go out on the research boat ‘Fluke’ to do further research on whales and dolphins. These trips have definitely been the greatest moments of my internship and were always incredibly educational. I learnt much about boat maintenance and how to approach whales and dolphins. Minke taught us a lot about the animals’ behaviours and how to observe changes in the behaviour as a result of the encounters we were having.

Besides this main project, we were invited to help with many more projects in Nature’s Valley with the team from the main office. We helped with fish stock surveys, bird ringing, mosquito fish surveys and many more amazing projects.

During bird ringing Mark and Brittany told us a lot about different bird species and the fynbos that they live in. The experience was amazing, and I will look back on it with a lot of joy, despite having to get up at 5 AM.

After work, we’ve done several other spectacular activities. Kellyn arranged a seal swimming experience for us, we went reef snorkelling and I will never forget the beautiful views of Robberg Mountain. We also did a safari in Addo Elephant Park with Sam and Amanda, 2 interns from the Nature’s Valley Office. This was our first experience with a safari and it exceeded all of my expectations.

I would like to thank everyone in the Nature’s Valley Trust team for making these 2 months so incredibly memorable. I will never forget the amazing times we’ve had here and the people that made that happen.

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