Tag Archives

4 Articles

Posted by Lauren Smith on

Beach Cleaning

Beach Cleaning

I have been taking part in, organizing and coordinating beach cleans for over 7 years now, my actions are a direct result of what i see on a daily basis; more and more rubbish ending up around our coastline. Having spent a reasonable amount of time frequenting some of the most remote Scottish beaches and coastal areas, i simply do not remember the last time i visited a beach that was rubbish free.

Just over a month ago i held a beach clean in Ullapool, this clean was just one of the 487 beaches, rivers & lakes that were tackled as part of the Surfers Against Sewage Autumn Clean Series. This year an incredible 21,200 volunteers took part in autumn cleans across the UK, removing a staggering 35.9 tonnes of marine plastic pollution, as well as other rubbish such as metal oil drums, tin cans and car parts!

The increased awareness amongst the public led to 100 more cleans in 2018 than at the same time last year. This increase in support was mirrored by the doubling of volunteers taking part in the Marine Conservation Societies ‘Great British Beach Clean’, this year when compared to 2017.

When i first started beach cleaning the objective would be to just pick up as much as you can and get it off the beach, whilst this is still a primary focus, cleans now endeavour to document the type and size of particular items. This helps to inform governments and provide much needed data to direct policy and look at longer-term solutions within industry, manufacturing and recycling. 

A huge thankyou to everyone who took part in this years cleans, we had a truly international effort with volunteers from Canada, Lithuania & Slovenia who were visiting this area during the clean and kindly volunteered their time. As well as plenty of local support within the community here in Ullapool.

Posted by Lauren Smith on

School Outreach; Shark Program

School Outreach; Shark Program

An interactive shark program is now available for children of primary school age, from P2 through to P7 (ages 5-11). This specially designed outreach program enables pupils to understand basic shark biology, ecology and conservation. By identifying what makes a shark different from other fish – with a special investigation into the shark senses, looking at the sharks habitat and where they can be found, and taking a look at the sharks role in the Ocean, seeing what threats they face and why they are important.

The program consists of a power-point talk, with interactive participation from the pupils. Additional support material will also be on display including a sharks jaw, dive gear and underwater camera set-ups – allowing students to get hands on with the type of equipment used to study the shark and its world, as well as supplementary material provided by the Shark Trust UK.

Developed with the Scottish Curriculum in mind, this outreach program ties in well to the ‘Planet Earth; biodiversity and interdependence’ and ‘Topical Science’ categories of the Science Curriculum and also covers aspects of the Social Studies Curriculum specifically ‘People, place & environment’.

To find out more about this outreach program or to arrange a booking please drop me an email; lauren@saltwaterlife.co.uk 

Posted by Lauren Smith on



On the 4th of February 2014, at around 11:30 am I was at work at the Macduff Marine Aquarium, as I cleaned the ‘nursery’ tank (a display set up to house shark and skate egg cases as well as other young fish species), which includes the careful removal of algae from the shark egg cases. I noticed the one I was currently cleaning had a well developed pup inside, as I looked closer I saw the top edge of the egg case had split so i rested the case on my hand and watched.

Soon enough after a decent amount of wriggling the pup hatched out right there onto my hand!

photo 2-001

This particular pup was a small spotted catshark (Scyliorhinus canicula), known locally and rather confusingly as a lesser spotted dogfish. Small spotted catsharks are most commonly encountered around the coastlines of Northern Europe, where they inhabit the seabed with a variety of strata (sand, mud gravel & rocky areas) from the shallow sublittoral down to depths of c. 400 m. They can reach a maximum length of 100 cm, with all males maturing after reaching a size of around 62 cm or in excess of 6.6 yrs and females at 69 cm / >7.9 yrs. Catsharks are opportunistic predators, consuming a wide range of macrobenthic fauna, with hermit crabs, cockles and whelks being considered dominant prey. In certain areas of the North East Atlantic, S. canicula are the most abundant elasmobranch, they are regularly taken in near-shore fisheries and are sometimes landed for human consumption.

photo 4-001

At Macduff aquarium, we have a large ‘kelp’ tank as a main display, in here mating pairs of S. canicula lay fertile eggs around the kelp. When diving in this tank we periodically remove the eggs and place them in the nursery tank, releasing them back into the wild once they have reached around 18 months +.

photo 6-001

With the recent publication by Nicholas Dulvy et al. entitled “Extinction risk and conservation of the world’s sharks and rays” detailing the fact that one quarter of all sharks, rays and chimaeras are threatened with extinction as well as the controversial ‘cull’ policy currently being employed in Western Australia. It was perfectly apt that Shark Angels (a global community that believes in the power of education, media and local grassroots campaigns to raise awareness and help save sharks and their ecosystems) should suggest this pup be named ‘Hope’.

photo 8-001

In today’s world in an Oceanic version of Pandora’s Box, after all the evil’s have been unleashed – overfishing, ocean acidification, sea temperature rise, marine litter, shark finning… I take encouragement in ‘Hope’ and further more with marine organizations and individuals stepping outside the box (apologies for the pun) in support of conservation, education and awareness I believe in ‘Hope’ too.

Posted by Lauren Smith on

Earth Day 2010 22nd April

Earth Day 2010

LOL – Lauren on Location – Earth Day 2010 – Lauren gives a talk, cleans up and discusses dangerous toilets.
Thursday the 22nd April 2010 was Earth Day; originally founded in 1970 in the US by Senator G. Nelson it is now celebrated by more than 175 countries worldwide and is designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment.
Earlier in the week, Helen King TSRCP’s Education and Community Officer had spoken to the Barangay Captain (Rex) who had agreed to participate in a series of lectures given by ourselves to the Barangay Officials on earth day designed to highlight the importance of coral reefs, the effect of global warming on coral reefs, the importance of the coral reef to elasmobranches and waste management strategies to protect the reefs and to help prevent global warming continue at it’s current rate. The Barangay is the Filipino word for village, and so the Barangay Officials are responsible for things occurring within their area. It was fantastic news and an honour to be allowed to take part in this event (I spoke on the importance of coral reefs to elasmobranches).
We also gave a similar series of lectures to the local kids of all ages and got them involved in a beach cleanup, the day was a huge success everyone had a fantastic time and hopefully learnt something useful. Also some promising initial discussions (prompted by Claire Horseman’s lecture – a visiting Science Officer from Coral Cay Conservation) began with the Barangay Captain about setting up Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) around Malapascua Island.
Getting involved teaching the local children about the importance of sharks and how toilets kill more people each year than sharks!
TSRCP Crew and Barangay Officials
Beach – Cleanup Crew