Mike Gregory Photo Amy Sennett, 14, has been volunteering at the Sea Life Centre this summer. Amy Sennett has been helping out at the Sea Life Centre on Tuesday and Thursdays in August. (Mike Gregory Photo)

Ladysmith teen shares knowledge of sea at community marina

Amy Sennett may be only 14 years old but she’s been fascinated with whales and dolphins since a young age and has found a passion with sharing her knowlege of the sea with others.

The teen has been volunteering Tuesday and Thursday for much of August at the Sea Life Centre at the Ladysmith Community Marina.

“I thought volunteering would be a really good idea to get involved,” said Sennett, who also helped out at this summer’s Kids Pirate Day as well as the Heritage Boat Festival.

Sennett said her interest in sea life started with cetaceans and broadened from there as she read more marine biology books at school.

“When I started snorkeling I became interested in other animals that were a lot more easy to find like pipefish, sea stars and nudibranchs,” she said.

She now snorkels close to ferry terminals, public beaches or pretty much anywhere were she can carry her gear to.

At the Sea Life Centre, she’s become an integral part of a volunteer team, welcoming visitors and trying to impart interesting facts about Ladysmith Harbour – the warmest harbour north of San Francisco.

“The mud flats, when they dry up, will actually heat the rest of the water so the animals here have adapted to that,” she said.

Other times she’ll mention the sea star virus, or if they ask about the moon snail shell on display, talk about how people are causing their egg depletion.

Marine biologist and author Rick Harbo has also been a source of knowledge and inspiration for the teen.

“If I don’t know the answers I’ll just look into some of our books which is another way I’ve learned some information,” she said.

Sennett’s also helped the Nanaimo Science and Sustainability Society give a presentation to an elementary school this year.

Ladysmith Maritime Society’s Shirley Blackstaff said having Sennett’s help has made for a more “meaningful” interaction with visitors.

“It’s always more meaningful if you have someone at the site,” she said. “Amy knows everything. She’s like a young scientist and she speaks pleasantly and knowledgeably.”

Sennett said she hopes to be pursue a career in conservation.

“The more I go swimming I think it’s interesting that we know so little about (sea life) because it’s so out of reach – we’ve only explored five per cent of the ocean,” she said.

Her last day at the Sea Life Centre is Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.