Working Life: Anna Bunney had to find sea legs to do her whale of a job

The community wildlife officer at Orca educates people about whales, dolphins and porpoises

Anna Bunney
Anna Bunney

People often don't believe me when I tell them what I do – they don't think that such a job exists. My role, on the Your Seas – People and Port project, is to educate people about whales, dolphins and porpoises and inspire them to care for their local marine environment.

I did a geography degree focusing on wildlife conservation and have long been fascinated by whales and dolphins. They are amazing creatures we still don't know a lot about, and some people think they are cleverer than us.

I'm based in Portsmouth and hold workshops and talks in schools and community groups. I give interactive presentations and take along objects such as dolphin skulls and whale teeth. A lot of people don't realise that we get dolphins, whales and porpoises around our coastline. It's great to change people's perceptions and see their fascination and excitement. I love seeing children's faces when I get them to imagine the sheer scale of a blue whale – it's bigger than three double-decker buses and could balance an elephant on its tongue.

We aim to educate people to think globally but act locally: reducing marine litter by recycling, for example – small things that everyone can do. I spend two to three days a week in local schools and spend time with bridge crews on ferries. They often follow the same regular route and can collect invaluable data for us about what is in our seas. I train them to understand what signs to look for when searching for whales and dolphins, and how to identify different species. Many of the captains and crew are already interested and take notes and photos.

I enjoy being out at sea and think I've now got my sea legs, although I still rely on my motion sickness wristbands. It's rare that I spend a whole week in the office, and I enjoy the variety of my job. I sometimes act as a wildlife guide on mini cruises organised by Orca. Showing people their first whale in the wild is incredible because I know it's something they will never forget.

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