Every year on February 11th, the critical role women and girls play in science and technology is recognised by the ‘International Day of Women and Girls in Science’.
This day celebrates the achievements of women in science and promotes equal access for women and girls in the field. We wanted to celebrate our own amazing female staff and volunteers and say a big thank you to them for their hard work and dedication.
At ORCA HQ, seven women have all come from very different backgrounds, working together with the vision to see the oceans alive with whales, dolphins and porpoises. From a cardiac nurse, a musical theatre graduate, and an administration apprentice, to staff with more traditional journeys into conservation. ORCA’s female staff all work within different areas of the charity so they can help to create safer places for whales and dolphins, ultimately promoting the health of our seas.
We spoke to the ORCA team about their different pathways towards working for the charity and the experiences which will stay with them for a lifetime.
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. As a marine biologist, It was my dream job, and I was over the moon! That was over 10 years ago, and it's been an extraordinary journey. . No two days are ever the same and the experiences and memories that ORCA has given me continue to be life-changing!
I’d been working for IFAW for nearly a decade and had become intrigued about the internal workings of charities.. This led to a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) 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 felt that I had the relevant tool kit and knowledge to help nurture this incredible, vibrant and unique NGO, with its pool of exceptionally 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 oceans and the animals that live there.
This will be my eighth 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, I’m the Chair of the Wildlife and Countryside Link Marine Mammals working group. I also liaise with the ferry and cruise companies regarding survey routes and dates, along with researchers and universities, to ensure ORCA’s data is utilised to the best ability.
As I am sure you can imagine, the work is varied, exciting and hugely rewarding, and there are always new opportunities arising. I can truly say I have my dream job!
Anna – Head of Education
I love that my job is so varied. I have spoken to, and inspired, hundreds of school children, delivered training courses to ship bridge crews, and have been lucky enough to spend lots of time at sea, seeing the animals we love and talk about all of the time.
I have so many highlights from my time working at ORCA. I always loved seeing children’s eyes light up when I talk to them about how large the blue whale is, or when I show them just how sharp a dolphin’s tooth is!
I’ve often received emails after a school visit, telling me that the children have not stopped talking about the ORCA workshops or that they have set up beach cleaning or plastic-free initiatives in their school. It is so humbling to see the passion I have for these animals passed on to the next generation.
Emily – Supporter Development Coordinator
After graduating from 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! Five years on, I have had experiences I could never have imagined and have learnt so much about whales and dolphins. From watching common dolphins leaping in the Mediterranean sun to wading through mud at Birdfair or teaching children how baleen whales feed, no two days have been the same, and I can truly say I’ve had some unique and incredible opportunities.
Eleanor - Data Analyst
I was always interested in fish and sharks, but I studied English language, law, psychology and music and never really considered science as a career. However, after finishing my A levels, I became even more interested in the marine environment whilst working as an office admin. This led me to start a marine science foundation degree at Falmouth Marine School, where I first became interested in using data to understand species-environment relationships. I completed my studies at Bangor University, where I studied marine vertebrate zoology and learnt even more about modelling and data, as well as cetaceans. I brought the two together for my dissertation modelling Risso’s dolphin habitats. I really enjoy the data side of marine science (e.g. programming and GIS). Maintaining datasets and analysing them is important for conservation and management, so this job with ORCA is a dream come true.
Kate - Ocean Conservationist Coordinator
I joined ORCA HQ in January 2022 but have been working for the charity since 2018, starting as a Wildlife Officer in the Bay of Biscay before visiting Portugal, the Canary Islands and Norway as an Ocean Conservationist.
I’ve also worked as the ORCA representative and resident marine mammal expert on MS Maud which is part of the Hurtigruten Coastal Expedition Service. During my time onboard, I helped to show guests whales and dolphins during our sailing from Dover to the North Cape, and we had some amazing views of the Northern Lights.
One thing that will always stick in my mind from my time with ORCA is the rare True’s beaked whale sighting I had whilst I was a Wildlife Officer during a photographic Sea Safari on the Pont-Aven! I will never forget the sight of these elusive animals jumping through the waves - a truly amazing sight.
Holly – Finance 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 then gave me a very exciting opportunity and took me on full-time.
I have had some brilliant opportunities, 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 am now the Finance Officer for ORCA and have also gained so many valuable skills and knowledge from my time here.
I will never forget my time with ORCA, and am proud to be part of such an amazing charity.
We work tirelessly to protect whales and dolphins in waters around the UK, Europe and beyond but we cannot do this without your help. If you would like to donate to ORCA, however small an amount, your money will be used to further the conservation of cetaceans. You will help us to continue surveying in the UK and Europe, run our programmes at sea and continue to work with governments and industry to make sure whales and dolphins have a voice.