Annya McKenzie

I chose to study Marine Biology at Liverpool because I knew that everything I studied there would be current, relevant and I’d be one step ahead of graduates from other universities not so heavily focused on research. I instantly fell in love with the city of Liverpool, its maritime links and history, its diverse student community, the vibrant culture and the friendliness of its people!

I gained a huge amount of independence living away from home for three years. Having to manage my time between studying, working part time, volunteering and getting involved in student life helped me to grow as a person. My favourite part of studying was completing my honours project, where I was able to collect data with the help of the National Oceanography Centre by using an ROV. Field courses were another favourite part, which included spending a week in Millport, with bikes being the major mode of transport to collect data. The course also part-funds an overseas trip, which was life-changing for me. I opted to spend a summer working with Wildlife Sense, a Loggerhead Sea Turtle conservation project in Kefalonia. I researched how the lack of enforcement of fishing regulations in Greece is having a severe impact on the sea turtle population.

I am now working as the Field Leader for Wildlife Sense, managing and leading a team of seasonal assistants, alongside passionate volunteers that rotate on a fortnightly basis. Every two weeks with the changing of volunteers comes the need to train, teach and educate the new arrivals on their roles, from locating a turtle nest, to measuring and restraining a turtle and what it means to work with Wildlife Sense. I make sure their experience is educational and fulfilling whilst also making sure they enjoy their time here.

As leader I am responsible for the collection, management, organisation and analysis of all data on the turtles. Many of our volunteers are BSc or MSc students working on their dissertations and I assist these students with data collection for their projects. Occasionally we take in injured or sick turtles for rehabilitation. Taking care of these turtles and arranging their safe transportation to a specialist centre is all part of my role.

Studying at Liverpool really helped and encouraged me into my job. The hours spent in the field collecting data, working in a team and my knowledge and understanding of marine life have all contributed in helping me achieve this career.  With the skills I learned I am now able to lead a successful, high achieving, motivated team of ever-changing volunteers, collate and analyse data and write scientific reports on this important population.