Duration of Internship: September 2023 – November 2023

Qualifications
BSc Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology, University of Plymouth (2021-2024)

Phoebe completed a 3-month placement at MER and was involved in a diverse range of activities both in the field, lab and office. She engaged with visiting scientists and organisations broadening her understanding of the field, contributing to a holistic perspective on marine and environmental research.

She came here on a placement year from University of Plymouth whilst studying BSc (Hons) Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology. During her free time, she explored the island, attended local events, and enjoyed the rich marine life by swimming and diving. Previous to this placement she did a commercial diving internship in the UK for 2 months conducting scientific surveys and driving support vessels.

In the field, she developed a range of skills, including scuba diving and snorkelling for underwater photography of new dive routes and conducting biodiversity and invasive species assessments of rocky reefs and seagrass beds for the Blue Raman project. Her work included checking acoustic sensors for biofouling and taking sediment samples with a box corer for ecological analysis at the proposed site of Latchi harbor.

She conducted a variety of fieldwork activities, primarily in the Natura sites of Moulia and Oceanid. At a fish farm, she deployed and retrieved a hydrophone to monitor noise from nearby piling. For the Blue Raman project, she used search methods to locate submarine cables, mapped their routes, and videotaped them, taking precise measurements. While scuba diving, she collected, measured, and counted seagrass shoots and epiphytes for lab analysis. Other fieldwork included freediving to collect water samples, sediment samples of macrofauna, retrieving old seagrass cage equipment, and deploying a CTD. Additionally, she performed day-long surveys of megafauna and birds across Moulia. With the data collected she contributed to subsequent work on environmental impact assessments and appropriate assessments for these sites.

One of her highlights was working with Blackchin Guitarfish (Glaucostegus cemiculus) on the population biology and connectivity in the Levantine Sea project. This included night shifts by headtorch as this was when the juveniles were present at the site.

Lab work included macrofauna sorting using the Rose Bengal stain to identify different polychaetes, molluscs, crustaceans for the Blue-Raman Google cable project and for habitat mapping. Lab work also included taking cross-sections of 2 unknown species of algae to create a morphology description of the structure to identify it using Image Pro Plus to take measurements of algal utricles. Another technique she learnt was conducting granulometry of fish farm samples for habitat mapping and the Blue-Raman project.

In the office, Phoebe assisted with the building of an ROV, literature reviews on topics such as noise pollution at fish farms, and the conservation of threatened bird species. She also created a field equipment brochure for MER highlighting the specifications and applications of each piece of equipment, showcasing her ability to communicate scientific information effectively. Overall, Phoebe’s internship experience at MER provided her with valuable hands-on experience and enhanced her understanding of marine research and conservation practices.

Straight after this placement she went to Ireland to work with the University of Galway as a researcher on lobster rearing with Homarus gammarus and Palinurus elephas.

She states: “I am very grateful to everyone at MER for providing such a rounded placement with a wide range of experiences. I especially enjoyed working with visiting scientists and being part of international and national projects. This placement has given me an insight into the industry and how I would like to progress my career.”