Blog: My time in NAMMCO

If you want to know more about the Intern programme click here

Picture of Sabine who was NAMMCO's intern in 2019

NAMMCO and me

I am Sabine, and I have been the intern at NAMMCO for the last seven months.

My first contact with NAMMCO was while writing my bachelor thesis on the usage of underwater footage of killer whales as a tool for assessing their health. I came across the killer whale species site while doing the classic initial google search.

In the spring of 2019, I finished my master’s degree in Ecology with a master thesis project on exploring population structure in beaked whales using mitogenomic DNA. After a year in a laboratory, I had had little contact with the development of management advice but knew of the science behind. I am, and always have been interested in the conservation and management of marine mammals and therefore, I now wanted to find somewhere I could contribute with my biological knowledge and communication skills while gaining some experience with “the real world”. Preferably in a place where the scientific results, like the ones from my master thesis, was put to use.

Being an Inter-Governmental Organisation (IGO), NAMMCO has a significant reach to people from all walks of life, from scientist and decision-makers to students and other members of the public looking for information on species, conservation and management of marine resources. Therefore, when I came across the internship program at NAMMCO, it seemed like the perfect way to utilise my academic knowledge in a different setting and I applied without hesitation.

My internship

Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

Within my time at the Secretariat, I have had a variety of tasks. From creating a species site for the striped dolphin to the preparation and participation of several meetings, working groups and a conference. I attended my first working group during my second week – the joint ICES/NAFO/NAMMCO Working Group on Harp and Hooded Seals (WGHARP). I also attended the Working Group on Abundance Estimates (AEWG) and the 26th Scientific Committee (SC) meeting in the Faroe Islands during the fall. Taking part in organising these meetings as well as attending and participating in drafting the report gave an outstanding overview of the many different layers NAMMCO work at.

My creativity came into play when I created posters and flyers to be used at the World Marine Mammal Conference in Barcelona in December. Here NAMMCO had a stall in the exhibitor hall, which I was manning with the General Secretary during the conference. Being on the other side of an exhibitor stall and talking to people is something I am familiar with from my previous experiences. However, at this conference, I had to communicate the work and role of NAMMCO with a wide variety of people, some with a very different point of view on management and use of marine mammals. This underlined to me how important efficient and clear communication in an IGO is.

NAMMCO's stall at an international conference, something participants to the intern programme may attend
Activity around the NAMMCO stall at the WMMC

I also had the pleasure of organising the second annual Marine Mammal Student Symposium held in Tromsø, where my previous experience with organising symposia and other events came in handy. This event was initiated to help local students to come together and share and present their research. The overall focus of this year’s symposium was networking and the tools one could use in order to break the ice at conferences and other events and in everyday life to establish and maintain a network of peers and professors.

In addition, as nowadays outreach also includes social media one of my weekly tasks was maintaining the NAMMCO Facebook page, posting Fun Facts on Fridays and other interesting research on marine mammals.


Immediately integrated as a valuable member of the Secretariat, I was given the responsibilities of creating figures and tables, updating the website, creating outreach tools and preparing meeting documents. Even with prior experience in written and oral communication, there was a leap from the sheltered life and communication of a university student to be one of the voices at the NAMMCO Secretariat. Fortunately, my colleagues always offered a helping hand and guided me when needed.   


Tromsø by night

Besides the possibility of working in an interesting work environment, there is, of course, the location. Tromsø. This beautiful place definitely holds a special place in my heart. Northern Norway is a wonderful place to visit and live in. I have had so many great experiences here, from commuting to work on cross country skis, hiking the beautiful mountains and fjords in the fall, seeing different wildlife to experiencing a full-blown Arctic winter! In addition to the beautiful scenery, Tromsø has a vibrant city life and several volunteer opportunities, which for me was a whole other level of getting to know this place and the people living here.  

The internship program at NAMMCO is a perfect opportunity to use the experience you might have from university or extracurricular work in a professional setting. All the questions, which for sure will arise, will be answered by your colleagues. And, I must say, that I have seldom been received with as much genuine interest for my baking skills as I have had at the Secretariat.

The next deadline for applying for an internship at NAMMCO is May 1st 2020. For more information follow the link here.

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