Welcome to the December YMB Blog!

Season’s Greetings and welcome to the December YMB Blog! There are some very exciting marine biology headlines to report this month that we hope you will enjoy reading about. In the Member Article section, we hear from former YMB members Georgia, Caitlin and Alys who have now moved on to become Student members and have some inspiring stories to share with you. Additionally, the time has come to announce the winner of the first ever YMB Competition, and to wish you all a joyful Festive Season and a prosperous New Year.

And remember, we would love you to contribute to the content of this blog as much as possible. Please share your stories, reports, finds and photos with us. Sharing your photos, writing, art work comments or questions with us for use in future blog content and bulletins may earn you an exclusive MBA pin badge! (see picture) email to: ymb@mba.ac.uk or share with us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram 

Latest Marine Biology News

Scientists are once again turning to the ocean in search of solutions for great challenges and have found in marine microalgae potential to combat climate change and food insecurity. A recent article has highlighted that industrial cultivation of these small organisms to produce biofuel from their lipids (fatty cells) also produces a protein rich left over that is highly nutritional and can be used as food for farmed animals. This is good news for many reasons because as well as maximising the yield of the process and helping combat global warming through providing an alternative to fossils fuels, this discovery helps reduce the need for land to produce animal feed which has driven the destruction of much of our rainforests.

Sea urchin. Image Jack Sewell

Many marine creatures including sea urchins (pictured) build spines and skeletons made of calcium. However, so far it was not clear how marine animals obtained the calcium they need. Scientist now believe they understand this process better thanks to new cutting-edge technology. Scientists are now able to observe cells in action and realised that the cells drink seawater to extract calcium ions. As well as understanding a little bit better the mechanisms that underpin life, this discovery has potential to inform how our own bone cells collect calcium to build our human skeleton.

Another recent curious discovery in marine biology regards understanding the peculiarity of flatfish, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. For example, flounder (a type of flatfish) start life with a fully symetrical body and undergo a radical metamorphosis before settling on the seabed with both eyes migrating to the same side of their heads. Scientists studied the DNA of flatfishes and concluded that the change is related to pigments in the skin. As well as helping solve a long standing puzzle, this discovery is important to inform improvement in flatfish aquaculture, given that flounder is a species of valuable commercial importance.

Marine scientists can end 2016 optimistic. The 2016 Ocean Health Index (OHI), an annual study that evaluates key aspects – biological, physical, economic and social – of ocean health worldwide shows no significant decline over the past year. Although these are reassuring news, it is clear that the marine biology community can and should continue working towards ensuring ocean health improvement in 2017 and beyond.

Member Article: Pathways to Marine Biology

This month we bring you the stories of three former YMB members who have now progressed onto university studies and student membership. We hope you will enjoy hearing of their passion and career choices and that this may help you in your marine biology pursuit.

Marine biology has always been a passion of mine from a young age and I knew it was a career path I would always want to follow. I studied all of the relevant science options in school and did as much research as I could outside of school. This really helped boost my knowledge of the subject and it also made me more and more enthusiastic with every book I read or documentary I watched. I would visit aquariums at any opportunity and got involved in the marine science community in any way I could.

I joined the Marine Biological Association as a Young Marine Biologist and this provided many opportunities that I wouldn’t have known about had it not been for the MBA. Receiving The Marine Biologist magazine also improved my knowledge of marine science and gave me access to new, relevant and exciting marine research. Recently I have started my studies at Plymouth University for a degree in Marine Biology and so far I am loving it! I have also recently progressed to a student membership because of this and there are a multitude of opportunities awaiting me – the membership discounts for training courses and conferences, networking opportunities and career development opportunities will greatly benefit me in my time at university and as I progress in my career in marine biology.

For anyone aspiring to a career in marine biology, don’t let anything stop you! I’m so lucky that I can now say I’m following my dream and doing what I have always wanted.

By: Georgia Woolf-Holloway

My name is Caitlin, and I’m studying Marine Biology at Plymouth University. As a child in a land-locked town, coastal trips were a rare excitement which had me scouring rock pools, searching for the secrets that lay within. Finding the incredible diversity of life in the world’s oceans ignited my passion for Marine Biology. Ever since, I have been hooked on the subject, and have seized every opportunity to study the ocean; the YMB helped me to achieve this. The huge wealth of knowledge available, especially in the learning zone, is intriguing and stimulating. Receiving The Marine Biologist magazine is also a fantastic way to increase understanding and involvement. It encouraged me to seek further opportunities, including participating in an internship at the Cetacean Research and Rescue Unit (CRRU), and undertaking further research into areas such as ocean acidification. Even on my school field trip to Anglesey, I was enthusing over our study of dog whelks, unlike the other cold, miserable students! The opportunities on offer at the MBA all year round, coupled with these sources of inspiration, have definitely helped me to start my journey to becoming a marine biologist. Student membership at the MBA has enhanced my prospects, opening more opportunities for me to enrich my degree and better my understanding. The oceans are of immense and increasing importance to humanity, the work at the MBA certainly highlights this. It is vital that more young marine biologists take a stand for our seas: our future depends on it!

By: Caitlin McAndry

Marine biology has always been part of my life, as I grew up in a little Welsh fishing village. My interests grew, I decided that I had to do a marine biology degree. I looked for activities and volunteering opportunities which would help me to get a place at university. The earlier I started volunteering, the more I could do before I reached university, therefore if I didn’t make the grade requirements my passion and experience might pull me through. This is how I came across the MBA. Being a Young Marine Biologist helped inspire me and gave me great contacts to do marine related work experience and volunteering. Soon after I joined, I got involved in volunteering such as with the HWDT and many others. Without the MBA’s enthusiasm and contacts within marine biology I might not be where I am now.

On another note the YMB scheme gave great information about choosing A levels. These were helpful as it helped me decide my A levels, which got me into university to study Marine Biology & Coastal Ecology. The Marine Biologist magazine was also great for reading, keeping up to date with new and interesting science. Some of which even assisted me in tackling some interview questions for university.

Now I’m at university and have re-joined the MBA as a Student member, it’s still providing me with great information and volunteering opportunities, which can now aid me in progressing to receive my degree and eventually become a marine biologist.

By: Alys Perry

YMB Christmas Card Competition – Winner Announcement

First of all, thank you for sharing your talents with us and entering the 2016 YMB Christmas Card Competition, which involved designing a marine-themed Christmas card. We were very honoured to receive such creative designs, which didn’t make life easy for the judging panel.

We had only one fantastic prize on offer – a signed copy of the Great British Marine Animals by Paul Naylor – and are pleased to announce Natasha Gausden (YMB, 16 years old) as the winner. I am sure you will join me in congratulating Natasha for the inspired and beautifully drawn design she created (see picture).

Please also join us in congratulating Claire Wollaston, Henry Follett and Jordan Havell as runner-ups.

On this festive note, on behalf of the YMB team and all here at the MBA, we would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a wonderful Festive Season and a healthy and prosperous New Year. May many of your dreams come true.

We really look forward to continue bringing you exciting news and updates and facilitate opportunities to help you get more involved in the marine biological community in 2017.

YMB Competition winning design

Dec 17, 2016 By elibas