An evening celebrating nature with Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum.
For anyone with an interest in Pembrokeshire’s marine environment, a fabulous evening of talks and images was held at the Torch Theatre on Friday 26th October. Organised by the expert team of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum the evening included fascinating speakers and the presentation of the 2018 Photographic Competition prizes, sponsored by Milford Haven Port Authority and TYF. A Community Interest Company founded in 2000, the Coastal Forum manages and delivers marine-related projects such as the Marine Code, Outdoor Charter and an online Wales Activity Mapping scheme.
In his introduction, CEO David Jones also mentioned the Pembrokeshire Marine Code App, which can be accessed free and will help us all get involved in vital updating of sightings and information about our ecology on the shores of West Wales and out at sea. The next upcoming event is the launch of the free refill water bottle scheme , which aims to reduce single-use plastic bottle usage, to be held at the Creative Common, Haverfordwest on 7th November at 7pm.
Beverley Phillips, Engagement Officer for the Living Seas Project
Involved in a current project to promote and encourage engagement across Wales about the coastal environment, Beverley works for the Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales and told of the roadshows and events across the country to educate and inform people of all ages about how they can make a difference to marine well-being.
Joanna Barker, Angel Shark Project, Zoological Society London
Joanna spoke with great passion about the project she is involved in to find out more about one of our most endangered species – the angel shark (also known by many other names, including monkfish). She has been researching in the Canary Islands and parts of the Welsh coastline – two of the few remaining areas that the angel shark is still abundant. These bottom feeding sharks are no danger to people and the audience was fortunate to see film of these amazing creatures in action.
Dr Steve Simpson, Marine Biologist & Fish Ecologist, University of Exeter
It is all thanks to a sixth form trip to Dale Fort, Pembrokeshire, that Steve made a sudden career change decision and decided to change his university application from Medicine to Marine Biology! This has been an enormous benefit to the marine environment as Steve is now leading research into all sorts of fascinating topics, including the impact of manmade sound on the ecosystems of barrier reefs, how fish use sound to communicate and leading the way in developing technology to study underwater marine life. Involved as an Adviser to the BBC Blue Planet II team, he also told of the great privilege of working alongside Sir David Attenborough during the production fo the series as well as some amusing anecdotes involving a puppet fish model, Boris.
Ffion Rees, Falcon Boats
Local skipper, Ffion talked of her life running wildlife boat trips from St Justinian’s out to Ramsey Island, Grassholm and beyond to the Celtic Deep. Home to the second largest colony, Grassholm is home to 10-12% of the world’s gannet population. Ffion and her team are often involved in working alongside marine researchers and she showed a stunning selection of stunning images of wildlife taken from her boat – sadly, many including the heartbreaking impact of plastics and balloons on the birds and cetaceans.
Sian Sykes, Paddle Boarder
An enthusiastic paddle-boarder , Sian recently undertook an epic solo unsupported trip around the entire outline of Wales – starting on the canals, then rivers and finally on sea on her trusty paddleboard. As she made her challenging 100km journey, she collected bags of plastic waste to highlight the damage being done to our natural environment and was successful in persuading many people to take the pledge to stop using single use plastics.
The evening ended with a Q and A session and the resounding message from all the panel was that there has to be hope to save the marine environment before the damage is too great – awareness is growing and things are gradually changing. An inspiring evening and I left with a feeling of hope about the amazing work that is being done to make a difference, to educate and inform, but ultimately to celebrate nature!
Everyone who attended received the 2019 tide tables and a wonderful booklet about every aspect of the Pembrokeshire coastline – it is not too late to get one for yourself as they are now on sale at the Victoria Bookshop.