An Interview with WiseOceans… Rebecca Daniel from The Marine Diaries
This week we chat to Rebecca. Her work with The Marine Diaries is all about communication – an area of science that is increasingly important. Starting from a broad base, Rebecca has narrowed down her focus after getting a range of experience.
Name: Rebecca Daniel
Job Title: Co-Founder (The Marine Diaries), Digital Content Executive (Carbon Brief)
- What inspired you to pursue a career in marine conservation?
I guess it stems from my Mum, who was a technical diver and always taking us to aquariums and showing us underwater photos from a young age. I had a dolphin themed bedroom aged 6 and learnt to dive at 10, so the ocean has always been close to my heart.
- What steps did you take/are you taking to achieve your career goals?
I decided I needed a broad degree background before specialising, so I studied Biological Sciences (BSc). But I made the most of my summers trying to get some marine-related experience. I volunteered with Wildlife Sense in Greece, and worked with Ocean & Climate Platform in Paris. I completed my MSc in Tropical Marine Biology, and have since developed my digital marketing and science communication skills working for an environmental consultancy, a green PR firm, and now a climate change non-profit (Carbon Brief).
- How did The Marine Diaries come about?
The Marine Diaries started between myself and two of my friends from my masters course at Essex in December 2017. Maddie came up with the idea and asked Harriet and me to come on board. We all started contributing articles to the blog and put out content on our social media. In 2018, we expanded considerably, taking on a new editorial team and core team members. We launched our first digital awareness campaign, ‘Plastic Not Fantastic‘ in June 2019. Since then, we’ve expanded further, become a 1% for the Planet non-profit, and joined the EU4Ocean coalition on ocean literacy.
- Which part of your role at The Marine Diaries do you enjoy the most?
For a long time I was surrounded by people who only cared about themselves, about making money or getting the latest car/bag/phone etc. They didn’t care about the environment like I did. The Marine Diaries gives me the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world, both within our team and from elsewhere. Whether through social media or through meeting them at conferences or events, it gives me so much joy to realise that others care just as much as I do.
- How is The Marine Diaries making a difference?
We are raising awareness for the oceans through social media and our blogs, by instilling wonder in the marine world, whilst highlighting the issues that currently face it. We believe that people do want to make a difference, but they are currently misinformed or unaware – this is what we are trying to combat. Our upcoming campaign against plastic in 2018 (“Plastic NOT Fantastic”) aimed to instil behavioural change in our followers, and their extended friends and family, to reduce their plastic consumption. We believe this the first stepping stone to unveiling the impact of our current lifestyle on the ocean. We hope that once individuals begin to make these changes, it will spark interest in other topics such as overfishing, climate change (warming & acidification), and habitat destruction.
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
I wish someone had told me early on that pursuing a career in marine conservation is expensive, and what kind of skills I’d need. You need experience with coral and marine animals for field jobs, and most also expect you to be a Divemaster. I would have saved up my money to get my diving qualifications and applied for more internships and volunteering projects had I known.
- Are there any skills you never thought you would need but did
Communication is a skill I’ve always been quite good at, but I never really realised how much I’d need it as a marine biologist. The Marine Diaries was founded on the belief that the challenges facing our ocean are due in part to a lack of education and communication about them. Strong communication skills are vital to inspiring change, as well as for managing the TMD team, who all work remotely. Making sure I’m clear on exactly what needs to be done and how ensures everything goes smoothly.
- What advice would you give to budding marine conservationists?
Do your research, and find out exactly what area of marine conservation you’d like to go into. Whether that’s by asking questions, trial and error or just thinking about what it is that really interests you. It’s such a broad industry that each path requires a different skill set and experience, and you want to start developing these early on. A strong degree is a start, but you also need experience!
- What is your favourite marine creature and why?
That’s a very difficult question because I love them all! Some of the top would have to be weedy seadragon, flamboyant cuttlefish, and seals!
- What is your most unforgettable moment in the sea?
A manta ray night dive off the Big Island of Hawai’i. It was the most surreal experience of my entire life (so far), and I’ll never forget what it felt like to sit on the ocean floor and watch these amazing creatures barrel roll above me.