For the past fortnight, I have been rushed off my feet with deadlines at uni and contacting various experts and organisations regarding my next post about the illegal trade in manta and mobula ray gill rakers. As a result, I haven’t had much time to do any other research into a serious blog post that would have any more substance than my own, existing knowledge. For that reason alone, I have decided to be a little bit indulgent and write about why I’m so interested in all of this, how I came to decide to study biological sciences and why I want to make a difference.
Ever since I can remember I have been interested in saving and conserving endangered species. Now, I’m not just saying that – when I was in primary school I managed to raise £55 for the World Wildlife Fund with a table top sale with some of my mates. I know, impressive, right? I was far too excited when I received the certificate and the WWF pin badge through the post. Then I went through the phase at secondary school of being the crazy girl who consistently put posters up about some kind of campaign that was going on, hoping that someone would notice. There was WWF’s Earth Hour and then World Endangered Species Day, amongst a plethora of others. I was consistently banging on about saving the planet. Everyone must’ve thought I was a bit nuts really. But, I guess you could say I found my niche.
I love the environment. And I’m absolutely obsessed with saving it. Now, before you think I’m one of those over-the-top tree huggers – I’m not. I’m real and I’m practical. For one, I like my home comforts and there is no way I would ever suggest that everyone should stop using their cars – I’m a bit of a petrol head as well. But there are ways we can utilise innovation and technology to have both of those things. I cannot wait for the day when our homes are run solely on renewable energy and our modes of transport use green energy that doesn’t feel like it needs a day to charge to travel five miles.
Museums were always a thing for me. I had my 12th, or maybe it was my 13th, birthday party at the Natural History Museum in London. I’m sure there were parents who were perplexed at this idea, but walking around those exhibits was one of the most exciting things to me at the time. It’s my home away from home now, much like university is. I have probably visited the NHM more times in the past year than I could count on my fingers, but every single time I discover something I never knew before, and I urge you to do the same. What I would do for an evening down in the zoological samples section. I just think it’s incredible. I can’t even fathom a sentence together to express how cool that would be for me.
As I say, I love the environment, but more specifically than that I freaking adore the oceans. It’s such a cliche word to use, but I am so passionate about what goes on underneath the waves of our marine world, that just the thought of it puts the biggest grin on my face. I guess I’m a geek – a fish geek to be more specific. One of my main motivations for studying biological sciences at university was to discover more about a realm that we’ve only discovered 5% of. That’s staggering to me. 95% of the world’s oceans haven’t even been explored yet. Wow. I don’t know about you, but the inner child in me just wants to put on on a diving suit, head out and see what I can find. Adventure is everything to me, and the ocean is a million different adventures waiting to happen. Yet so far in my studies, I have done very little other than stay in a lab looking at cell samples or conducting other experiments with plants *yawn*. I guess I am only a second-year undergrad, but I am so eager to actually get into the field.
I have been umming and aring about what I want to do with my life for quite a long time now. I have also known that it had to be something to do with the environment and conservation, but I didn’t quite know what. I went through a phase of wanting to be a marine biologist, and quite frankly I don’t think that phase will ever end. I’m fascinated by everything, but one species takes the cake for me – Great White Sharks. They’re so terrifyingly beautiful and majestic. The fact that my blood curls with anxiety every time I see one, yet I’m staggered by their refinement never ceases to amaze me. At the same time, the illegal trade in wildlife is also a topic which captures my heart. I love writing too – hence this blog, which is why I’ve decided that I would love to be a presenter and an investigative journalist into environmental issues and crimes. I could not think of a better job, personally.
Travelling is something I also love, but then again, doesn’t everyone? This year I was fortunate enough to travel to the Norwegian Fjords. The pure breathtaking beauty of Norway is truly something to behold. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to witness the great Aurora Borealis, but there’s always next time.
No, for now, I’m stuck in rainy Lancashire. But my dreams and ambitions, as corny as it sounds, are what get me through every day. Everything that I’m doing now is all leading up to the moment when I land my first broadcasting job as a naturalist present. Life is that little bit easier if you have a passion and a desire to do something. Find what you’re interested in, find your niche. It doesn’t have to be environmentally related if that’s not your thing, just find something you care a lot about. Next week I am going to be fortunate enough to be interviewing Dr Andrea Marshall about manta rays. Dr Andrea was the first person in the world to complete a PhD on manta rays. The first person! That alone inspired me to continue pursuing my personal goals, and I hope you find some inspiration in your everyday life to continue doing what you love and are passionate about. In the meantime, I guess being stuck in a lab in Lancaster isn’t too bad when the Lake District is on your front doorstep.