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Studland Seagrass and Seahorse Project

August 31, 2013

Intro

As part of the Dorset Wildlife Trusts’ Studland seagrass and seahorse project, two marine wardens were required to help raise awareness of the bay and its globally important habitats. The primary vehicle for this would be a questionnaire designed to investigate boaters’ use of Studland bay (south beach in particular) and find out what kind of management boaters could recommend and be open to.

For Lynn Marsland and I (Darren Lloyd), this would be our first venture into paid conservation work. We had both volunteered with the trust before – Lynn has been volunteering on and off at Kimmeridge for the past 6 years and undertook a similar project in 2012 with shore anglers. I have managed to squeeze in some time during my university degree at Bournemouth University and spent a full summer working full time with the Trusts’ Green team at the Urban Wildlife Centre in Corfe Mullen.

We both hold a deep passion for the natural environment and similarly aspire to be part of the next generation of conservationists. We were both extremely pleased to be part of the Trusts’ effort to have Studland bay and its magnificent wildlife protected.

 

Week 1

As with any new job, the necessary induction procedures were carried out. However, from the off, it was clear that this role was going to different; fun, challenging, rewarding. The big three?

We started out getting to grips with orientation, the dress code, working hours, health and safety etc. Once the necessities were done with, it was time to get into the meat of why we were here. Julie Hatchers’ (the head marine awareness officer at Kimmeridge) informative slideshow on the seagrass habitat at Studland and the issues that surround its protection was our proper introduction to our roles as marine wardens. It was clear that the relationship between boat users and conservationists were somewhat frayed and we were to be thrust upon the front line.

As a result, a conflict management session was scheduled. Six Trust employees were subjected to this eye-opening course which led to some useful tips being picked up. Both Lynn and I seemed to have similar personalities in that we both preferred to avoid conflict when possible, which we thought was probably useful when dealing with potentially fractious situations. The session was interesting and enjoyable for the most part. I highlight one particularly uneasy moment, when split into groups of three, one person would act as speaker, one as listener, one as observer. The test was to speak (myself) to the listener for 3 minutes, about anything. One catch – the listener could not react in any way, emotionally or verbally. It was hard enough to think about something to talk about for 3 minutes (to a complete stranger I might add), however, to speak to what was essentially a ‘brick wall’, was oh-so-difficult. I ended up waffling, and stuttering on about travelling. The aim of this process was to understand the importance of listening and how important it is to show interest in what people have to say. Needless to say, it worked.

The final part of our induction was kayak training. Part of our job would be to kayak around south beach (a part of Studland bay) every Sunday and get as many questionnaires filled out as possible. Kayak health and safety was important and it was also a chance to see if Lynn and I were kayak-compatible, as the kayak would be a double. Unfortunately, the weather decided that week 1 wasn’t good enough and proceeded to ruin thing’s, however Lynn did not get the message in time and went anyway!

 

 

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