Kate Weld's objective is to get her Ecology students into paid employment when they graduate from their foundation degree in Animal Conservation. They do a lot of practical field work in their first year, prior to a second year focussing on the marine world.
With this in mind, Kate brought Sue and Jasmine with her to present some of their work to Coastwise members, and help them get used to speaking to groups of people, as they might in, for example, a Ranger's role in the future.
As well as a film about some of their activities, they presented the results of a survey they had conducted among Petroc students to find out their attitudes to the local coast and beaches.
There were 9 questions :-
Age? If they visit the beach? How often they do so? Which beaches? What they do? Take rubbish home? Name any species of wildlife? Is the wildlife important to them? Any changes they would make to the beaches or coastlines?
It transpired that the vast majority visited local beaches such as Woolacombe, Saunton and Croyde, and nearly half of people from this survey visit once a month or more. Abbotsham, Lynton and Hartland were the least popular because lots of students don’t drive.The majority walked and socialised, and 87% said that they picked up rubbish. A lot of animal species were identified, and 94% said that wildlife was important to them, but responses of known species were quite generalist. This means that, disturbingly, 6% said they don’t care about wildlife.
Many recognised that education for visitors on litter, conservation and associated issues is very necessary to change attitudes, a conclusion that fits very well with Coastwise's objectives over the last 10 years.