A summer in the life of the Marine Futures Intern

Walney Wind farm by Lydia Tabrizi

A blog written by our Marine Futures Intern, Lydia, telling the tales of her summer working for the North West Wildlife Trusts, The Crown Estate, Ørsted and Natural England.
Lydia

My name is Lydia Tabrizi, I am 24, from Wigan, and I am lucky enough to be the Marine Futures Intern for the summer of 2019!

I am coming to the end of a 12-week internship, funded by The Crown Estate, and hosted by the North West Wildlife Trusts, The Crown Estate, Natural England and Ørsted.

I graduated from Bangor University a year ago with a BSc in Marine Biology and an MSc in Marine Environmental Protection. I had a passion for marine conservation but was struggling to find a relevant job and ended up working in a law firm, this was a completely different area to where I wanted to be! This internship has given me the unique opportunity to work for four very different organisations and opened up opportunities for my future.

The Crown Estate – 5 Days

I spent the first week of the internship in The Crown Estate’s office in London, with the interns from another internship programme that they fund – the Coast Explorers Internship Programme. We got a good insight into their ethos and they gave us a detailed overview of the work that they do. We had inductions to the Marine Data Exchange, Marine Policy and Planning, Marine Minerals and Dredging and cables and pipelines.

I have really enjoyed meeting people with different roles within The Crown Estate from the Head of Coastal to the GIS team. It is an exciting time at the moment as The Crown Estate have been consulting on new areas of seabed to be leased for wind farms to be constructed in an effort to meet the targets for renewable energy development and a reduction in carbon emissions

The Crown Estate have also been great at providing high-level training sessions for all of the interns, including GIS (Geographic Information System - a great mapping programme), data visualisation, CV and business writing skills.

I have also had my ‘insights profiled’ which has been a great tool that has taught me about my own behaviour and made me more aware of others behaviours too! It turns out I am a “creative” type which does not mean I am an artist, rather someone who sees and responds to the world in opposing ways. This is very relevant for a career in the marine sector where it is necessary to balance the interests of lots of different sea users.

North West Wildlife Trusts – 12 days

The first time I met all of my Cumbria Wildlife Trust colleagues was at the ‘Time is Now’ lobby outside Westminster. Over 12,000 people joined us to make our MPs aware #TheTimeIsNow to act on the Climate Emergency!

I have also loved helping out with Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s marine engagement events, most notably mud dipping and Beach Schools. We were amazed and excited to greet over 190 people at sunny St Anne’s beach in July, helping them to explore the muddy pools of the saltmarsh and identifying ragworms, common shore crabs, mud shrimp and much more. This certainly got me back into using my ID skills quickly!

I have also been lucky enough to go out on a fishing boat to Ørsted’s Walney 2 wind farm which is co-located with the West of Walney Marine Conservation Zone. Check out the video at the end of this section!

Cumbria Wildlife Trust have been trailing the use of creel pots to fish more sustainably for Norway Lobster (aka scampi or langoustine) which are normally caught using trawls. I have been analysing the data and writing a report as part of my personal research project to see whether this method could be a viable, sustainable and lower-impact option for fisherman to use in the future. We are hoping that this pilot project will lead on to more research to support the diversification of sustainable fishing methods off our coastline. 

 

Most recently, I crawled along the shingle beach of South Walney Nature Reserve to survey the only breeding grey seal colony in Cumbria! The seals were counted and their behaviour and any disturbance was recorded.

Here's a fun video of the process of creel fishing for Nephrops within Walney 2 wind farm!

Natural England – 10 days

Natural England are the government advisors on the natural environment. On my days in the office with the Cumbria Marine and Coastal Team, have been helping produce documents that provide conservation advice and recommendations to other organisations that use our seas.

I also helped them out with an awareness raising event that they attended called ‘War on Plastics’ at the Dock Museum in Barrow-in-Furness. I set up a super fun display which included a very successful plastic pledge board. We received over 30 pledges from local children all pledging to make swaps and reduce their plastic use.

Most excitingly, I have been helping the team write a funding bid but I can’t give you any more information on that at this point …

I am also going to help out with a seagrass survey in the next few weeks which will be very interesting! Seagrass is really important as a carbon sink, it helps prevent coastal erosion and provides a habitat for fish, crabs and other creatures. We are lucky enough to have some seagrass meadows in North Morecambe Bay, just off Foulney and Roa Islands. I will be going out to help assess their distribution and health, identifying any threats to this special habitat.

Ørsted - 6 days

Ørsted are a green energy company that have built and manage most of the wind farms off the North West coast. I have spent three days with them so far and they have been very eventful! Most notably I spent a morning in a very breezy, exposed spot at the south end of Sandscale Haws Nature Reserve with some Orthinologists surveying wading birds and noting their behaviours around Ørsted’s new helipad. When fully operational the helicopter will take technicians and equipment out to service the wind farms off Walney.

In the afternoon, I was lucky enough to get treated to a helicopter ride while the ornithologists continued to survey. I  got to fly over Walney Island and along the coast of Morecambe Bay with views of the lakes and fells. What a great way to see our beautiful coastline!

I have also had insights into the day-to-day life of Ørsted employees. Their offices are located in Barrow docks and if anything is going to motivate you it’s the view out their window!

 

NWIFCA – 3 days

I have also spent a few days with North West Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NWIFCA) learning about how they ensure the sustainable management of all inshore fisheries in the North West.

I have observed a mussel survey at Heysham. This is a unique mussel bed that extends out for miles, the mussels form over layers of soft muddy sediment, not clinging straight onto boulders and rocks like you normally see on the shore.

A second survey was focused on surveying for the invasive Chinese Mitten Crab. These can devastate our coastline and rivers as their burrows cause destabilisation of dams and coastal erosion. It is important for the NWIFCA monitor the shellfish beds where mussels are moved to other locations for growing on, to ensure that Chinese Mitten Crabs are not present in the area and therefore not a risk when moving mussels around. Luckily none were found on the survey!

I got to sit in one of the NWIFCA’s Technical, Science and Byelaw Sub-Committee meetings, which gave me an insight into the processes behind managing sustainable fisheries, such as developing byelaws to regulate fishing effort. 

The Future

I have had lots of CV, cover letter and application advice throughout my internship from both The Crown Estate and Cumbria Wildlife Trust. Using the new skills I have learnt I hope to secure a job in the marine conservation sector within the North West. This internship has been a great bridge between university and the real world… next stop, an adult job!