Squat Lobsters, Scallops, and Sea Grass: A Shell-Shocking Summer on Arran

Trace joined the COAST team in July and August 2023 as a Marine Engagement Intern and got stuck into the outdoor adventures and community spirit of the island. 

It’s easy to say that the six weeks I’ve had on Arran have been action packed as the time has flown by. From the Fun Day with the Arran Outdoor Education Centre on my third shift, to the busiest week of the season, I never found myself wondering what I should do.  

In spite of constantly changing weather, I managed to complete a full lap of the island on my bike and climb Goatfell in a weekend. When the weather was clear I was out on a kayak or snorkelling looking for the elusive seagrass bed in Kildonan (found it eventually!). I also had a personal mission of going to as many ceilidhs on the island as possible, shoutout to Alice in Whiting Bay for being so patient when no one understood how to dance the Witch’s Reel. And of course, the highlights from the busiest week of the season: watching the Drakes of Hazard (a sheepdog that chases runner ducks) at the Arran Show and getting to play with the pipe bands at the Brodick Highland Games. 

Prior to coming to Arran, I set out a list of everything I wanted to see or do, but despite my efforts I’ve still only scratched the surface of what Arran has to offer (meaning I’ll have to come back). 

Trace on bike
Trace Pipe Band cropped

Coming from a research-based course at university, I was eager to see and learn as much as I could about the research currently going on in the Marine Protected Area (MPA) and No Take Zone. However, I quickly realised how important engagement with the community is when it comes to managing an MPA. During my time at COAST, I got to see first-hand the policy and campaigning work that COAST does, and how working with the community is the essential for the MPA to succeed. Working in the Discovery Centre I got to meet tourists from all over the world with an interest in marine life, and even the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland, John Lamont and his full entourage. These interactions with people day-to-day are what help drive the success of the MPA and COAST all together. 

Trace 3
Trace Farmers Show

As an intern at COAST, no day looks the same. Some days you’re in the office designing new exhibits for the centre, and some days you’re out helping at an event; from walking along a beach as shore cover for a snorkel taster session, to rock pooling with the National Trust for Scotland rangers with a group of 60 people, and even out on a boat using a drop-down camera searching for maerl beds on a sea science trip. During my time on the island, I’ve been able to meet and work alongside the COAST team in addition to the many volunteers and members of the community that work to protect the marine life around Arran.

For more information on our Marine Engagement Internships and how to apply, please visit our Vacancies page.