As we trade in our snorkels and flip-flops for umbrellas and wooly hats, now is a good time to reflect on the incredible thirteen days the MSc Marine Systems and Policies students spent in the Maldives. The Maldives is comprised of 1192 islands, 26 natural atolls, 250 species of coral and over 1115 species of fish. The country’s economy is centred around tourism and fishing, with other industries such as agriculture, boats and handicraft contributing to revenue. The main social challenges facing this country are energy production, drinkable water and waste management. In addition, these low-lying islands are threatened by sea level rise, global warming, coral bleaching, tourism, overfishing and ocean acidification. When you look at the vast array of challenges the Maldives are having to try to combat, it becomes complicated very quickly, however it makes for an interesting environment to study.
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The aim of this excursion was to introduce us to different field methods and apply these in practice to small-island developing states. Whilst undertaking these activities we were also trying to understand the broader elements that may drive changes. The trip was broken down into three aspects: the marine environment (snorkelling or scuba), geomorphology and social science. In addition, each student was required to undertake their own personal project in an area that interested them within the core subjects. Looking at these complex socio-ecological systems in blocks allowed us to start thinking about the linked nature of environmental and social change.
In the second semester of my first year Undergraduate Geology degree I studied EMP2 and SWAP outside of the core course: Introduction to the Geological Record. EMP 2 was oriented towards mathematics while SWAP was oriented towards Environmental Science. Both subjects imparted useful ideas in the realm of GeoSciences ranging from mathematical modelling to the workings of microclimates around the world.
I finished this course 2 years ago. Looking back, I say it was worth it. This subject introduced me to a plethora of new things including geological maps, sedimentary logs and many new field trip skills. The cherry on the top was the field trip to the Lake District. The views were nice and Alex Thomas was a great field instructor.
Turbidity current experiment
For my dissertation I traveled to Australia, the land down under! There I worked with the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Coral Reef Studies at the University of Western Australia in Perth. I did my project on corals found in the Kimberley Region of Australia.
Back in April we went to the Maldives for the last core class of the M.Sc Marine Systems and Policies programme.
I had never been so far East or far away from home. The journey to the Maldives was long as you can imagine. We first stopped in Istanbul, however, our layover was so short we didn’t leave the airport and instead we explored the airport, which is quite huge! Then we flew to the capital of the Maldives, which is Malé. I tried to sleep the entire flight. That was quite trippy as I woke up so far away from home in a different time zone without having felt the time pass by. The airport is on a little island, and upon exiting you are already greeted by the clear blue waters of the Maldives.
Waters just outside the airport doors
After studying environmental studies for the past year, I realised that I have adopted new habits when it comes to sustainable living. I always try to incorporate environmentally-friendly practices everyday, such as minimising waste and purchasing packaging-free items (#LushCosmetics), but I was never used to be very conscious of my crochet waste. After completing my projects, I always ended up throwing away tons of yarn scraps, watching the sad yarn strands go to waste 😦
This is an image of my most recent sock monkey creation (first time making a striped one), and next to it is the yarn that did not get used. In the past, I used to have what may have been another ball of yarn’s worth of wool scraps, but today I did something different. For this monkey, I decided to stuff it with the extra yarn and thread that I cut off, significantly reducing the amount of yarn waste. I understand that yarn does not have a huge impact (like at all :p) on the environment, but it still helps knowing that I was able to reduce waste 🙂
Hope this monkey brings some people smiles during these final dissertation deadlines 😀
I only came to university two years after finishing highschool and I’m happy that I did, because those two years gave me a lot more experience in the field that I’m studying and I had a really good time as well. Today I’m going to write about the six months I spent volunteering at the Botanic Garden in Kiel (Germany). I spent another year with the Ulster Wildlife Trust in Northern Ireland which I will make a separate blog post about.
My placement was called “Freiwilliges Ökologisches Jahr” (voluntary year in ecology) and is a German volunteering scheme. You don’t have to be German to take part though, in fact the person volunteering in the garden before me was American and there was a girl from Egypt in my regional group. You get a monthly allowance which is enough for food and rent, and some places even provide you with a room to stay. Most placements are for one year but there are some shorter placements as well (I got a six months placement on short notice because a volunteer quit early on). There are placements all over Germany and they are all so different, too! In my group, there were people working in nature reserves, on ecological farms, in city councils, doing outdoor education with kids, and there even was someone working on a sailing boat! Continue reading
For me, the best part of studying Ecology (or geosciences in general) is getting to go out into the field. While my first year courses took me to Siccar Point (Earth Dynamics), the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (Origin and Diversity of Life) and an estate in Perthshire (Biology, Ecology and Environment), I hadn’t been on any longer field trip yet. But after all the exams, first year Ecological and Environmental Sciences students stay in Edinburgh for another few days to take part in a residential field trip (so we stay in Edinburgh but go out to different places every day). Field Ecology is a second year course but is taught in the end of first year. It is so unlike the other courses I’ve taken throughout the year!
Through the Global Tectonics and the Rock Cycle course and the Field Skills for Geologist course I visited the wonderful parish of Assynt. Assynt is a geological wonder, with friendly people, great beaches and breath taking landscapes. I am extremely thankful for the University of Edinburgh for taking me there. In Assynt I practiced my geological field skills such as Triangulation on a map, measuring dip & dip direction of beds and taking accurate & comprehensive field notes. I visited many wonderful localities such as Knockan Crag, the outcrops at Loch Assynt and the Imbricates next to Ullapool. I geologically mapped the area north of Loch Assynt and the Imbricates section east of Ullapool. Outside of my geological work I visited the wonderful porcelain factory, Highland Stoneware, strolled down the many beaches on Assynt’s coast and sampled the taste of local pies. I spent two good weeks in the region. I hope reading about my adventure will delight you as much as being in the region delighted me.