The Inaugural Ocean Ambassadors Prize competition

In November 2018, Ocean Ambassadors launched the first ever student-led Ocean Action Project. Aligned with our mission, the students of Atlantic College were invited to apply their UWC education in creating solution-focussed responses to an ever-growing marine related issue; Noise Pollution. The task involved creating a pitch that would be targeted towards the shipping and boat building industry for a noise exclusion zone surrounding Lundy Island in the UK. 

Classified as one of the UK's most treasured Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), Lundy Island hosts a wealth of marine species. Home to the Atlantic grey seal, Basking shark and Bottlenose dolphin, these marine mammals rely heavily on sound to navigate, detect prey and locate both mates and offspring. Increased commercial, industrial and recreational use surrounding the island is interfering with these natural behaviours, threatening their survival in our local waters.

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending UWC Atlantic College to represent Ocean Ambassadors to judge the group of students that had been tackling this project. Acting as a stakeholder involved with the shipping and boat building industry, the students directed their pitch to convince me to support the establishment of a noise exclusion zone surrounding Lundy Island. Their enthusiasm and creativity surrounding potential solutions demonstrated an acute awareness that positive change will only arise if all stakeholders are involved and invested in the decision-making process. 

For me, the outcome of this project has demonstrated that the key to the survival of our oceans involves better engaging with the hearts and minds of all - particularly, our young people. Their innovative ways of thinking and raw enthusiasm pave the way towards long-term, sustainable solutions. Following the success of this project, Ocean Ambassadors will continue to develop student-led projects to further engage student communities to inspire active involvement in shaping our ocean's future. Our ambitions are to provide a platform for young people to develop their awareness and knowledge of these issues, and to apply their initiatives in formulating solutions. We very much look forward to the next competition! 

Reflections from the winning students Asako Kitai, Napat Luanpolcharoenchai and Hayley Lai:

On 16th of November, Felix Appelbe from Ocean Ambassadors and the producers of BBC’s Blue Planet held a lovely presentation at Atlantic College. Through this experience, we were introduced to the different possibilities within the Marine Science field as well as the Ocean Ambassadors competition. 

With all three of us growing up near cities with extensive shipping routes, overfishing and hence heavy amounts of pollution (Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong/Canada) we were fully aware of the harmful effects that resulted from these dangerous activities. Thus as a group, we really wanted to pursue this competition, gain further insight into this problem and do our part in helping protect this fragile ecosystem. Through researching into the noise pollution and using the case study of Lundy Island, we have discovered the importance of marine life preservation and the extent to which humans have already damaged the area. On the other hand, we have also found many creative and realistic solutions in which we can implement to fix this problem.

This Ocean Ambassadors competition has truly opened up our perspective on the possible applications Marine Science has in the real world, and the innovative ideas and suggestions people from all around the world have started exploring. As the topic is not commonly taught in schools, this opportunity gave us the chance to learn something outside the curriculum, showcase our passion for sustainability and become little experts in underwater noise pollution.

With two of us wanting to pursue subjects related to marine biology and wildlife conservation, and the other being interested in business, this competition has opened up opportunities for us in the future. We have all developed our research, communication, and presentation skills, and we owe it all to Ocean Ambassadors.

Thank you, Ocean Ambassadors, and especially Felix, for creating a platform for us to further our ambitions, work with amazing people, and have fun!

Left to right: Asako Kitai (Japan), Napat Luanpolcharoenchai (Thailand), and Hayley Lai (Hong Kong & Canada)

Left to right: Asako Kitai (Japan), Napat Luanpolcharoenchai (Thailand), and Hayley Lai (Hong Kong & Canada)