Welcome back to the YMB blog!

In this month's blog:

  1. YMB Summit 2020 - THIS WEEKEND!

  2. Ullapool Sea Savers - a blog by Poppy Lewis-Ing

  3. The Jellyfish Swam poem by Harry Turner

  4. An introduction to PhD student Laura Branscombe

  5. Book reviews and a call for contributions!

  6. A short film: Wonderful Wembury Bay


    Remember: we want the YMB blog to be written by you, for you! If you've got something you'd like to write about, or another contribution that you'd like to share with other YMBs, please get in contact by emailing ymb@mba.ac.uk! We love to hear your stories about everything marine. 

1. The 4th YMB Summit is happening virtually THIS WEEKEND!

We've got a very exciting line-up of speakers, discussing everything from the deep sea to coral reefs, how to share science (dancing encouraged!), and how they got to where they are! Head to www.mba.ac.uk/ymbsummit2020 to read all about our speakers and the schedule for the weekend.

The event is completely FREE and there's still time to register for your spot here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ymb-summit-2020-tickets

2. Ullapool Sea Savers - a blog from Poppy Lewis-Ing

My name is Poppy Lewis-Ing and I am 14 years old. I Live in Ullapool in the North West Highlands of Scotland and I am a founder member of the Ullapool Sea Savers.  USS was formed in the summer of 2018 as a children’s marine conservation group. The brains behind the group are Janis and Caillin Patterson and Noel Hawkins (Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas Project.) I became interested in the plight of our oceans because of my involvement in the plastic straw campaign at Ullapool Primary School, which led to Ullapool becoming the first village in Europe to become plastic straw free. Joining USS provided me with the opportunity to learn and campaign on environmental issues with other like-minded children.

Being a Sea Saver means that I get lots of opportunity to spend time with my friends.   We range in ages from 11 to 15, have very different personalities, but all connect as a group because of our love of the sea. It is important that we respect and listen to each other as we all bring something different and valuable to USS.  Since becoming a Sea Saver I have gained a lot more confidence.  Our work is varied and means that we speak to lots of different people from children to journalists, television presenters and politicians. Although this is exciting it can also be nerve wracking!

One of the most high-profile campaigns USS became involved in was the No Kelp Dredge campaign. Appalled by plans to dredge areas of kelp off the West coast of Scotland, we joined forces with local groups to try to stop this from happening, writing letters to MSPs and protesting outside the Scottish Parliament. We were actually present in the chamber at Holyrood when, a crown bill amendment was passed ensuring that only sustainable methods of kelp harvesting could be used and we even got a round of applause!  In 2018 USS received an Otter Oscar from the International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF) for helping to protect the kelp and otter habitat.

As Sea Savers we take on the role of Ambassador for a species we are particularly interested in. I chose otters because they are fascinating and play such an important role in the ecosystem.  We then form partnerships with corresponding MSP Species Champions (this is a Scottish Scheme that links politicians with specific species and groups that work to protect them). I realised that otters did not have a Species Champion in parliament (even though they are iconic enough in Scotland to be on our bank notes!) so, with support from Noel and Scottish Environment LINK, we persuaded Kate Forbes MSP to take on the role.  I was fortunate to meet her at IOSF head office and was also able to see where my adopted otter Karma was rehabilitated. I hope that Kate and I can become a voice for otters.

The work of USS is sometimes challenging.  Our beach cleans highlight how much plastic pollution there is, the lay-by litter picks show how disrespectful people can be when leaving their litter behind and, occasionally, we do encounter those who oppose our work.  However, we also have a blast! There is no better feeling than being out on Noel’s boat watching the wildlife, meeting new people, filming for nature programmes and being supported by our amazing local and global community.

I hope that I can continue to make a difference with USS and inspire other young people to do the same.  I am currently working on plans to introduce otter road safety signs by Ullapool and as a group we have lots of exciting projects coming.  Although we are restricted with what we can do just now, where there is a will, there is a way!

A huge thank you to Poppy for your contribution to our blog. You can find out more about Ullapool Sea Savers on their website here: https://ullapoolseasavers.com/. If you've been inspired by their work, let us know by emailing ymb@mba.ac.uk!

3. The Jellyfish Swam poem by Harry Turner

Thank you to Harry for the wonderful poem. What's your favourite species of jellyfish?

4. An introduction to PhD student Laura Branscombe!

Image from NERC EO Data Acquisition and Analysis Service Plymouth (in Emberton et al., 2015)

My name is Laura, and I am a first year PhD student at the Marine Biological Association. Throughout my PhD, I will be investigating how diatoms, an abundant and diverse group of microscopic marine algae, sense and respond to bacteria in the oceans. Using the local Western Channel Observatory, just off the coast of Plymouth, as a model sampling site, I will isolate ecologically important diatoms and their associated bacteria to investigate how the two groups communicate.

Marine microalgae such as diatoms are a vital part of marine ecosystems as they produce up to 40 % of the world’s O2, and heavily influence phytoplankton communities. Additionally, some diatoms can form huge blooms that can be seen from space. These blooms are a major component of marine nutrient cycles, and therefore an important source of nutrients in marine ecosystems. However, some diatoms, such as my study genus, Pseudo-nitzschia, can produce toxins, resulting in Harmful Algal Blooms that have negative effects on the health of marine life and even humans. Chemical compounds produced by marine bacteria have been shown to influence algal blooms, and can even make them more toxic. Therefore understanding how these bacterial metabolites regulate Harmful Algal Blooms is an important step in predicting and controlling their impacts on marine life.

Further reading: https://www.noaa.gov/what-is-harmful-algal-bloom

5. Book reviews and a call for contributions!

Have you seen a book about the ocean that you'd like to read? You can let us know by emailing us on ymb@mba.ac.uk and we will try to get a copy for you to review! Book reviews are published in our quarterly magazine, The Marine Biologist, which you can access through the member portal!

Remember: we want the YMB blog to be written by you, for you! If you've got something you'd like to write about, or another contribution that you'd like to share with other YMBs, please get in contact by emailing ymb@mba.ac.uk! We love to hear your stories about everything marine. 

6. A short film: Wonderful Wembury Bay

Are you curious about UK marine life? Our friends at Wembury Marine Centre have put together a short film showcasing the life near to Plymouth, where the MBA is based.

Have a watch by clicking the link below, and let us know if you enjoyed it!

Wonderful Wembury Bay film


That's it for this month's YMB blog! We'll see you again next month for our December festive edition!

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Nov 23, 2020 By loiflo