Charlotte joined the COAST team in May and June 2023 as a Marine Engagement Intern and fell in love with the Arran landscape, people and seas.
Coming to the end of my time at COAST and reflecting on the last seven weeks, I can hardly believe how the past couple of months have flown.
Prior to arriving at COAST I had never been to Arran, had only visited Scotland once before and expected to find the island a bit isolated, rainy and wild. Now the word I would use to describe Arran is magic.
As an avid lover of hiking, water sports and outdoor adventures the island has felt like a big kids playground! My personal highlights have included climbing Goatfell, the three Beinns and Cìr Mhòr, hiking all over Lochranza, marvelling at the Glenashdale falls and snorkelling in the sunshine after work… it’s a wonder I’m leaving to be honest. The wildlife here has also been unbelievable! I’m still in shock to have seen all of the big five on one island – seals, red squirrels, red deer, otters and golden eagles – let alone all the other fantastic birds, reptiles and marine creatures I’ve been lucky enough to encounter. It really does bring home just how important it is to preserve these wild spaces, and that on Arran at least, it is entirely possible.
Whilst the nature and wildlife here are of course stunning, beyond that, the people working to conserve it have been a hugely inspiring aspect of my time here. It has been fantastic to meet COAST’s hard-working staff, hugely committed volunteers and those giving countless hours to help kids and adults alike connect with nature. I have marvelled at how invested the community are in local conservation and it has been a joy to see this approach to marine protection not only in action but thriving.
Originally coming from a social science background, it was a bit of an intimidating prospect coming to COAST. Whilst I had a lot of in-depth (niche!) knowledge about Marine Protected Areas, No Take Zones and the like, the idea of jumping into harder marine science (like seaweed id!) was daunting. The welcoming, accessible approach of COAST to marine engagement made the move both possible and empowering. Working in the Discovery Centre and getting to see the excitement of kids realising that rockpools are full of life; adults enchanted with the tanks; and visitor after visitor becoming aware of just how magic -and fragile – our marine environment is, has given me real joy and affirmed my goal to continue in the sector!
Working at COAST day to day, it’s easy to overlook how impactful individual moments are for connecting people to the ocean. Collectively however, the ripples they create are enormous. Research to date is clear that communities are the most significant factor which ensures the success – or failure – marine protections. Given that effective marine conservation is needed now more than ever, it has been really inspiring to be involved with COAST’s work to embed people in protections in order to save our seas. Leaving Arran I can only describe the island as ‘magic’. Potentially the root of Arran’s magic is the example it sets of people, nature, and wildlife living in harmony – a future we should all hope to aspire towards.