Marine Biologist Louise wins 2014 Jersey Clipper Bursary

| May 19, 2014 | 0 Comments
Louise Bennett-Jones

Local marine biology student Louise Bennett-Jones has been awarded the 2014 Jersey Clipper Bursary, worth £750, enabling her to take up a three-month unpaid post-graduate marine biology internship at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.

In addition, an anonymous donation has enabled the Jersey Clipper Bursary trustees to make a second award of £250 to a young sailor, 14-year-old William Holden, to help him compete in the UK.

Louise (20) is due to graduate from Plymouth University in September and is hoping to fly out to Hawaii shortly afterwards. She has been offered the internship by former Jersey resident Carl Meyer, a research assistant at the Hawaii Institute, whose current research focuses on the ecology and management of sharks and reef fishes.

‘I feel this is a fantastic opportunity that I cannot miss,’ said Louise. ‘I consider myself extremely lucky to have been offered such a sought-after, relevant placement so soon after graduating. This position will be both fantastic for my CV and an exciting maritime opportunity.’

Former Beaulieu pupil Louise decided she wanted to be a marine biologist at the age of seven after going on a “Ramble in the Rock Pools” with local naturalist Andrew Syvret.

‘I feel extremely lucky to have grown up in Jersey, but also for being part of a family whose weekend schedules revolve around the tide tables, all of us enjoying scuba diving, dinghy sailing, etc.’

In recent years Louise has completed the HSE Commercial Diver, RYA Day Skipper and RYA Powerboat Handling courses, which have helped her achieve Carl’s offer of the internship. She is also a talented photographer, both above and below the water, and is looking forward to taking exciting new images in Hawaii.

Louise ultimately hopes to return to work in Jersey having spent two summers with the Marine Resources section of the Environment Department, looking into the impacts of waste water pollution on the sea grass beds in St Aubin’s Bay, Grouville and St Catherine’s Bay for her third-year dissertation – something she will be giving a talk about to the marine biology section of the Société Jersiaise later this year.

It was through working in Jersey that Louise met Carl: ‘He has been in Hawaii for the past 20 years or so,’ said Louise. ‘When living in Jersey he was part of the Fisheries team, and when he was in the Island last summer he came to help us with a project we were doing at the time. It was after getting to know him here that I received the fantastic opportunity to work alongside him in Hawaii.

‘Given that it was a guided walk in the rock pools that really sparked my interest when I was young, I feel very privileged to have been offered some seasonal work with Jersey Walk Adventures this summer,’ added Louise. ‘I feel that I have come full-circle, in that I am the one sharing the knowledge I have gained, and maybe I’ll be able to inspire some future marine biologists myself!

Victoria College pupil William, the son of a professional fisherman, started sailing through St Catherine’s Sailing Club when he was eight and is passionate about the sport. He took part in his first national event in Rutland at the age of ten and has since attended many national competitions as well as winning a number of local events.

‘Last year I attended the 2013 nationals in Larges, giving me a national ranking,’ said William. ‘From this I was selected for the development squad but very sadly had to turn this down due to the cost of travel to the UK. The award will help me to compete in more national events and possibly help fund training on and off the Island.’

The annual Jersey Clipper Bursary award, a legacy from the three Jersey campaigns in the Clipper Round-the-World Race, was established in 2007 through the generosity of Dandara, Les Pas Holdings and UBS. Further funding to ensure the future of the award was recently provided by local boat-owner Nigel Philpott and the Island’s three former Harbourmasters – Capt Roy Bullen, Capt Brian Nibbs and Capt Howard Le Cornu.

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