Carol Moorehead, from Glenlola Collegiate School in Bangor, Northern Ireland, spent six weeks working with Karen Sheil and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Northern Ireland on a project entitled 'The impact of people on coastal wetlands and the marine environment in Northern Ireland'.
Carol’s project explored the effect that people, and especially boat users, have on the natural marine heritage of Northern Ireland, using the examples of Belfast Lough and Rathlin Island. The findings will aid the RSPB in educating people and raising awareness of the importance of effectively managing and protecting these marine sites for wildlife, people and the economy.
Talking about her work, Carol said: "For my project I targeted two Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs); Belfast Lough and Rathlin Island to assess human impact, litter and chemical pollution and the effects of overfishing and disturbance. As part of my investigation I had to consider ways to create a method to help boat users measure the oil content in their bilge water as a way to assess their impact on the marine environment. In order to better analyse the samples I approached Kilroot Power Station who helped me analyse the samples and get more definitive results. This highlighted how difficult it is for boat users to meet the European Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Oil Pollution) Regulations of 1996 if there is no simple inexpensive method to measure oil in bilge water. I hope this will inspire further research, which will benefit our local marine environment.”
“The programme has been a fantastic learning curve for me – I got to work side by side with colleagues at RSPB who have taught me a lot about the marine environment and shown me what the ‘working world’ is really like.”