The St Abbs Marine Station, where Kelsey is doing her research, was established in 2012 with a vision to give back to the local marine and coastal community, inform wider conservation and sustainability efforts and train future marine scientists. Without access to this facility Kelsey would have had to rely on using artificial conditions to study her corals, which would risk harming them.
"My corals would have been placed in tanks with artificial seawater that would have negatively impacted their health. The flow-through seawater system at St Abbs allows my corals to live in real seawater where they can filter feed on plankton in the water and be exposed to conditions more similar to their natural habitat,” she explains.
The University has just signed a five-year partnership with St Abbs Marine Station to open up more opportunities for teaching and research – the type of opportunities that can’t be accessed in a city centre, despite being relatively close to the coast.
“The University of Edinburgh’s really good at looking at our whole earth system in relation to climate change, so having a facility like this that allows us to reference the 70% of the earth that we don’t have the facility to explore is pretty essential,” says Professor Murray Roberts, Head of the Changing Oceans Research Group and Chair of the Joint Working Group between St Abbs Marine Station and the University of Edinburgh.
“One thing I found when I started lecturing at Edinburgh was how many students asked why there’s not more marine science at Edinburgh. A lack of the right facilities was one barrier but it’s something we're starting to deal with. This marine station is sitting right on the coast. It has an infinite supply of high-quality seawater and St Abbs itself is the oldest marine reserve and the oldest established monitoring reserve in the UK. It’s a very special natural environment.”