Coastline makes great first impression

Laura Smith, new marine ranger at St Abbs
Laura Smith, new marine ranger at St Abbs

Last weekend saw St Abbs put in the spotlight for World Oceans Day and there’s one woman who gets to enjoy the picturesque coastal view every day as part of her job.

Laura Smith is the new marine ranger at the St Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve, taking over from Georgia Conelly who left the position to take on a managerial role at the nearby St Abbs Visitor Centre.

The warm and sunny spell of weather we’ve been enjoying of late has shown off St Abbs and its surrounding area in a great light and it’d be fair to say that the Berwickshire coast has made a fantastic first impression on Laura who arrives in these parts from Spey Bay in Moray, where she worked for Whale & Dolphin Conservation and the Scottish Wildlife trust.

Laura spent five years in northern Scotland after graduating from the University of Glasgow with a degree in zoology but her love for marine life stretches back a lot further than that.

“I knew I wanted to be a ranger when I was at school,” she told ‘The Berwickshire News’.

“I was doing my Duke of Edinburgh and volunteered with a local ranger service near my home for no other reason than my friend did.

“But I quickly realised that it would be amazing to have that job for the rest of your life.”

Prior to taking up her ranger duties at St Abbs, Laura wasn’t too familiar with the Berwickshire coast but she said it made a terrific first impression on her.

“Spey Bay and St Abbs and Eyemouth are about as different as you can get being by the sea,” she continued.

“Spey Bay is very flat whereas the Berwickshire coast is very rocky and dramatic.

“The reviews were one of the first things that I noticed and they made me want to explore.

I’ve only been in post a few months so I haven’t been able to get out and about that much yet but I’m looking forward to the summer.”

Voluntary organisations like the Marine Reserve rely on support from communities and Laura said she hoped the residents of the Eyemouth area appreciated what they had on their doorstep.

“St Abbs was the first voluntary marine reserve in the whole of Scotland so it’s a very important place,” she continued.

“There’s a great set up here and the local community are so lucky to have what they have here.

“I’ve been working with quite a few school groups since starting at the reserve and I couldn’t believe that some of the children had never been to a local beach before.”

One of Laura’s first jobs in her capacity as marine ranger was to launch a new educational resources which the Reserve hopes will be used by primary teachers and children, both in the local area and throughout the UK.

‘Caring for Reef and Shore’ uses three short films to tell the stories of the diver, the fisherman and the marine ranger.

Laura added: “The abundance of life on this stretch of the coastline is incredible and so many people take pleasure in it, whether they are diving, poking about in rockpools or eating fresh, locally caught seafood.

“The success of the St Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve is down to the number of people who care for it, each in their own way.

“We hope that by telling the stories of some of these people, we will inspire a new generation to explore the life on reef and shore and become stewards of the VMR.”