Profession: Marine Lead Adviser
Organisation: Natural England
Gina taught me a lot about the incredible world of Stereo Video's and always took the time to explain things to me in detail. I am forever inspired by her knowledge of the marine environment and her perseverance to achieve her goals.
1. How did we meet?
On Utila, Honduras, in 2015 working for Operation Wallacea.
2. What is one memorable ocean moment from our time together?
Riding on top of the Coral Princess (the dive boat) in the glorious Caribbean sunshine. That’s technically more than one because we did that a lot, but there was no better feeling!
3. What encouraged you to pursue a career in marine biology/conservation?
Going on family holidays and spending a lot of time snorkelling in the sea. The ocean seemed so mysterious and intriguing and I wanted to explore it more, which inspired me to study marine biology at University.
4. How did you land your current job?
A friend I had met through working with Operation Wallacea was already working for Natural England. She let me know they were recruiting and encouraged me to apply. I started off as an adviser working on the England Coast Path, not marine but at least close to the ocean! I was also in luck when I joined Natural England, as they had spaces open on the Dive Team, which I was accepted into. We carry out surveys every summer, mostly on the south coast of England. From there I worked my way up to a promotion as a lead adviser in the marine team.
5. What is it about your role that makes you feel like you are truly making a
The majority of my role involves writing advice packages and giving advice to developers on how they can avoid having an impact on the marine and coastal environments. As part of this I help developers to work biodiversity net gain into their development plans. This could be through nature recovery or improvement etc. I feel that this work makes a difference, as it ensures that developments are more sustainable as well as helping to improve our natural environment.
6. What advice would you give to aspiring ocean warriors?
Volunteer as much as possible to gain experience and build networks. And don’t worry if you don’t land your dream career straight out of University. It might take a few years to get to where you want to be, and that’s ok! Take time to travel, gain experiences and try different things.
7. What has been your most unforgettable experience in the ocean and why?
Snorkelling with whale sharks in Mexico has to be up there with my top experiences. They are so elegant, yet so huge and I’ll never forget one swimming toward me and right past me. As I turned to watch it, its tail swished by and off it went into the distance, leaving me in awe.
8. Who has inspired you to achieve your goals?
My friend Jenny, who is also a work colleague, as she’s always encouraged me to aim for goals even when I haven’t been confident in myself and thought I wasn’t good enough to achieve them. So far she’s always been right.
9. What do you hope to achieve in the future?
I’d like to work towards a career in marine and environmental data and mapping, specifically data management and visualisation, to make data more accessible and easier to understand for a wider audience. I think this will help with educating
people on the impacts we are having on our environment, which in turn will help to conserve it.
Note from Gina
Thank you to all the amazing people I have met during the many summers I spent, as both a uni student and as staff, working on Utila with Operation Wallacea. Those experiences and people have shaped me as a person, given me so much knowledge and so many skills, and helped me get into a career I enjoy and am passionate about.