MCS Sea Champion: Caroline’s story

22 August 2022  /  By Caroline Collingridge, MCS Sea Champion

We asked MCS Sea Champion volunteer, Caroline Collingridge, why she is so passionate about seagrass, what had prompted her to volunteer for MCS and help out with talking to visitors about seagrass, at the Green Tech boat show on the Remedies project/RYA Green Blue stand this summer….

What got me interested in seagrass? Wanting to do something, anything that would help restore our degrading planet.  I moved to Plymouth, the ocean city, a year ago and incorporated the marine world into my already existing love for nature on land. That’s the short answer.

I grew up in the Surrey countryside in the 50/60s with thriving plants, insects, birds and animals all around me.  Then I started to notice that, with the increase in population density, more traffic and more pollution, things were not going so well with the environment. I trained as a classical flautist and music teacher and spent much of my working life playing as a freelance professional flautist, music teacher and creative arts therapist in London and Surrey.

In the 90s I moved to Sussex and joined Sussex Wildlife Trust and The Conservation Volunteers. Over the next thirty years I continued my music research and performance but I also loved the South Downs and the sea. Any excuse to get out and I would be there; swimming, walking, foraging and being with trees (my passion). I visited the Knepp Estate in West Sussex and was enthralled with these new “rewilding” attempts. I immediately bought the book, “Wilding” by Isabella Tree about their experiments to regenerate a damaged agricultural land space. When the project “Help the Kelp” came up on the Sussex Wildlife Website, (short video narrated by Sir David Attenborough), I had to write a poem, and sent this off to SWT as my little bit to help the restoration.

Last year I moved to Plymouth and joined Devon Wildlife Trust. I read about seagrass planting in Plymouth Sound, I enrolled immediately in a scuba-diving course so that I could dive down to help plant the seagrass and/or monitor it. Sadly, this activity had to end and I accepted that my involvement had to be through swimming and land-based activities, using my knowledge and experience to spread the word.

We are only guardians of this world and I think it is so important that each and every person takes responsibility for improving wherever we live, no matter how small the deed and to join with larger groups to campaign for larger issues when a lone voice is “drowned out.” Hence my involvement with the Marine Conservation Society.  I’m enjoying learning about marine biology and environmental science.  Through the arts, I can help to communicate the message to a wider public.  At least that’s the theory!

Being at the GreenTech Boat Show in Plymouth was a completely new experience for me as I’m not a sailor and know nothing about boats and engineering. However, I found the experience fascinating, especially listening to people talking about boat engines, mooring devices and other useful kit.  The environment and all life forms are so interconnected that whatever happens to one small part of it affects all the other parts. If we cannot keep our oceans clean and thriving, then humans will not thrive either. Marine conservation has to be at the top of the agenda for the health of our seas and oceans. © C. Collingridge 29.06.2022

 

Seahorse -06.06.22

Eelgrass, my seagrass

Growing so tall

Majestic in depth, domestically wild

A child when it’s planted, granted a life.

 

You’re home to the seahorses

Who swim through these courses

With forces of nature

Sources of wonder

Under your nose

If only your eyes

Could rise from their slumber

 

The spies of the sea

Will hide in the grass

With their friends, the wrasse

Now that’s real class.

 

An act not to miss

You’ll enter their bliss

This idyll is here

So don’t take your fear.

 

But blink and they’re gone

The grass and the wrasse.

The seahorse too

The sea will be blue!

© C. Collingridge