Louise-Océane grew up in the southwest of France by the sea, surfing, swimming in the waves and spending as much time in the water as possible. After multiple family holidays to Hawaii she became fascinated by the marine life over there and knew at that point she was going to orientate her life and career around the marine environment.
Studying BSc (Hons) Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology at Plymouth
At school, Louise-Océane was toying with the idea of studying biology at university, but due to her interest in marine life she decided marine biology was the way to go. None of the universities in France offered marine biology at undergraduate level, so when she discovered the University of Plymouth she was surprised by the multiple marine biology courses Plymouth offers.
“I was overwhelmed by the fact that there were three different marine biology bachelor degrees!”
Ultimately, she decided to take BSc (Hons) Marine Biology with Coastal Ecology after speaking to Dr Antony Knights at an open day and discovering that it was the most conservation-orientated course.
“I came to an open day, and that’s it, I was convinced and didn’t even thing of looking at somewhere else.”
“I really like the diversity of the modules we get to do over the three years.”
Before coming to the University, Louise- Océane admits her knowledge on the subject was pretty basic – she knew she liked whales but that was it.
“Having this diversity of modules has been an eye-opener on the marine world and the threats to the ocean.”
She has really enjoyed the ecology modules that have helped her understand the 'bigger picture', how everything is connected and how an ecosystem functions. She has also loved the applied modules, which link biology, ecology and natural science, but also social science and politics.
“I like that you can choose more and more modules towards the end of your degree and basically shape it the way you like.”
“When I am talking with my lecturers, with my course mates, when I look at the content of my course, when I meet all these people from Plymouth doing something for the ocean, I am just feeling so grateful for the experience I am living in Plymouth.”
The threats to our marine environment
“I don’t think people are really conscious of what’s happening in the marine environment.”
Louise-Océane can see there is a big push on plastics around the world, and how people are trying to minimise their single-use plastic consumption, but regarding other threats, people don’t seem to know much about them.
“In terms of pollution, people think of plastic pollution first but they don’t realise that one of the biggest pollutions is nutrient pollution. People hear about 'overfishing' but they don’t really understand it. They hear about 'climate change' but they don’t know what it means for the ocean.”
In terms of making the public more aware, Louise-Océane suggested a few things. Education was number one and ensuring this is taught in schools so people are aware from a young age. She also believes focus on environmental issues need to move beyond just plastic, as there are far more threats to the ocean than just this. And not just telling people about these threats, but giving them key ways in how they can help change the threats; let them know what we can all do, as individuals, to help the marine environment.
And before all of this education on saving the marine environment happens, people need to actually be made aware of the marine environment.
“People need to experience the marine environment. They need to live with it and experience emotions towards it. Then people will love it, care about it and become much more conscious about the threats to the marine environment.”
Plans after graduation
Louise-Océane isn’t sure where her career is going to take her, she wants to keep exploring different areas of research and conservation and get some more experience.
“For now, I would like to focus on marine ecosystem restoration and work with different projects around the world, linking natural sciences but also social sciences.”
Her dream is to learn to sail and move around the globe by boat.
Through the course, Louise-Océane has gained a solid basis on a broad range of subjects which she believes offer her an array of possibilities for what she can study and where she can work in the future.
“Our lecturers really push us to get as much experience as possible on the side of our degree. I think the support and help they give us to go out of our comfort zone, to try different things, to volunteer with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to give the best of us, is key to how successful we will be in our career.”
Plymouth Beneath the Surface
Louise-Océane realised there were many students who would not be able to come to open days due to travel restrictions and COVID-19 and wanted to come up with an alternative way that prospective students could find out how great her course was.
This was how she first came up with the idea of her podcast, Plymouth Beneath the Surface.As she thought more about it, she realised that it wouldn’t be just prospective students that would be interested.
Anybody who has any interest in Plymouth and its links to the ocean, would likely be interested in the podcast.
Louise-Océane hopes that interviewing and telling the stories of people from Plymouth who work with the ocean, will get more people interested in the ocean and “see the sea from a different angle.”
“Doing this podcast is a way for me to connect even more with this community, to meet amazing people, and to share what inspires me with other people, so they could get inspired too.”