Monday, 16 February 2015

G’Day from Jimmy & Claire, our honorary Aussie Sea Champions

When we were contacted last summer by Jimmy explaining that he was coming to the UK for a couple of months and would love to get involved with Sea Champions we certainly didn’t want to turn a kind offer of help away so our solution was to make Jimmy and his sister Claire honorary Sea Champions! Read on to hear about their marine conservation adventures as they made their way round the UK coastline.

"In the beginning of July 2014, my sister Claire and I made our way to London and then out west, and ended up helping at a stand on an insanely cramped beach in sunny Weymouth, England. Here, this story begins, that being our adventure along the stunning British coastline.

I’d chosen to get in touch with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) prior to leaving Australia to organise some volunteering. Coming off a cracker of a summer on the Victorian coast, having thrown myself into everything from rock-pool rambles to night time snorkels chasing dumpling squid, and a few days micro-chipping fairy penguins in between, I was pumping with energy and enthusiasm to continue to help out wherever I could, even if that was in a foreign land.

Volunteering with MCS introduced us to a new way of travelling. We continued to explore but now with a new twist, one with a deeper purpose than simply taking in the towns, countryside and people on display. We started to see the coastline as our own, with our holiday time allocated to cleaning beaches of vast piles of rubbish rubbing off on us, forming a sense of ownership that transcends homogenised ‘borders’.

We offered MCS an opportunity to visually promote large tracts of the British coast from the eyes of a road-tripper, live, through social media such as twitter and Instagram. Each night, as Claire was settling down in her half-broken tent, I was in the two-door car with my knees around my ears, uploading and transferring the days photos to multiple locations, and sharing info we’d discovered during the day as well.

We ran numerous beach clean ups along the way in Wales and Scotland; on the tip of the Gower Peninsula, at Tresaith (the first heritage coastline in Britain), outside Tenby (with its low-tide stranded boats), on the Ynyslas sand dunes, and on multiple lochs (Lyne, Long, Sween, Broom). Whilst at Brighouse Bay in southern Scotland, Claire and I focused solely on counting the strands of washed up rope from the fishing industry. We picked up over two thousand pieces between us, in a little under an hour! Terrible.

Volunteering on the road wasn't easy, and in hindsight I would've liked a few more weeks to really take our time, staying in spots for days rather than hours. But return to the ‘real world’ we must, with a further appreciation for how huge and diverse the world is, and a priceless collection of memories.

Now it’s time to work on my own country’s coastal problems – teaming up with the Australian Marine Conservation Society for the “fight for the reef” campaign, whilst taking the environmental message to all that can listen. 

To the passionate people we met at MCS, we thank you all for having us on board as honorary Sea Champions, and wish every single one of you the best in the fight to protect and save British waters from those that the waters have (again, ironically) protected for centuries.. Peace!!"

To read Jimmy's full story or peruse through a few more of his beautiful seaside photos pop on over to his blog It's Jimmy Nails

Here's a quick update from Jimmy 6 months on: "I'm now co-coordinating the Victorian branch of the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) down here, with heaps of events and our major campaign ticking along. It's been an amazing learning curve and experience the past six months. We've had a Rally For The Reef, dive shop talks, national park and marine protected area walk'n'talks, beach cleans, organising invasive species workshops. I'm loving it!"

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