Plenary Focus: Sam Fanshawe Affirms Importance of Citizen Scientists, Volunteers in Marine Conservation

Sam Fanshawe, pictured here at a 2007 Marine Conservation Society beach cleanup, will be speaking 14 August as an IMCC3 plenary.

Sam Fanshawe, pictured here at a 2007 Marine Conservation Society beach cleanup, will be a plenary speaker at the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress.

In 2013, Sam Fanshawe became the first British woman to receive the Rachel Carson Prize, an award in memory of the American writer, scientist, marine biologist and environmental ethics advocate. Executive director of Marine Conservation Society, Fanshawe was granted the international environmental award for her “outstanding leadership of the sea charity” and the scope of her conservation work. Fanshawe is actively involved in conservation research, marine conservation policy and public engagement. She has led several high-profile marine conservation campaigns in the UK.

Fanshawe will be speaking at the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC3) on citizen science and public participation in UK marine conservation. “The marine environment has been a notoriously difficult and expensive environment to monitor, resulting in a paucity of knowledge and understanding about the distribution and state of marine species, habitats and impacts for many years,” she explained. “Effectively trained volunteers, combined with robust methodologies, have filled numerous gaps in our baseline knowledge of the UK marine environment and provided vital evidence to support marine conservation policies and protection measures.”

Fanshawe studied marine sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a focus on community ecology and interactions between sea otters, abalone and commercial fishermen. She joined the Marine Conservation Society, a UK-based charity, in 1994, coordinating the charity’s education and public engagement projects. The projects included Basking Shark Watch, Beachwatch (beach litter surveys) and Seasearch (underwater habitat and species surveys). This role developed into one focused on informing and influencing UK policies for marine wildlife protection and sustainable management, including protection of the basking shark and the Review of Marine Nature Conservation that led to the Marine & Coastal Access Act 2010. Director and Chief Executive since 2005, Fanshawe continues to champion the charity’s mission to inspire, inform, involve and influence everyone with a role to play in protecting seas, shores and marine life.

Fanshawe said she’s looking forward to emphasizing the important role of citizen science during her plenary speech at IMCC3. She stated, “This is a really exciting opportunity to reflect and applaud the role that citizen science and volunteers have played in marine conservation over the past 20 to 30 years and discuss with experts and practitioners from around the globe, the potential to build on this to protect the seas for our future.”

Fanshawe will be featured as an IMCC3 plenary speaker on 14 August 2014 at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow, a day showcasing strong female marine conservationists.

Samantha Oester is a Co-Chair and Communications Chair for IMCC3. She can be reached at for information on the IMCC3 Plenary Speakers and other facets of the Congress.



Meet the IMCC3 Local Secretariat: Scotland Team

Dominc McCafferty

Dr. Dominic McCafferty, professor at the University of Glasgow, is Head of the Local Secretariat for the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress

Dr. Dominic McCafferty, Head of Local Secretariat

Dominic is the Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow, in the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine.  He has a passion for the marine environment in Scotland and a special interest in seal conservation. He teaches on a variety of undergraduate and masters courses, as well as participates in a wide range of public outreach activities. One of the highlights of the year is coordinating a field course on marine mammal biology at Field Studies Council, Millport. Dominic lives in a small village, close to Scotland’s first national park at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, together with his wife, ten-year old daughter and chocolate Labrador. He looks forward to welcoming International Marine Conservation Congress delegates to Glasgow in August.


Natalie WeldenAssistant to Chair and Local Secretariat

Natalie Welden is the Assistant to Chair and Local Secretariat for IMCC3.

Natalie Welden is the Assistant to Chair and Local Secretariat for IMCC3.

Natalie, originally from Nottingham, grew up canoeing and kayaking on the River Trent. Realizing there were jobs that would keep her on and around water, she chose to study ecology, focusing on aquatic habitats. Starting her studies in Derby, she made her way north to the Scotland, with short stops for an M.Sc. in Marine Environmental Management and a stint with the Environment Agency in York, as well as a summer surveying cetaceans with the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre in Wales. Now based on the Isle of Cumbrae, Natalie is writing up her Ph.D. on the impacts of marine microplastic in the Clyde Sea – she wishes her laptop had enough power to work on the beach. When not working on her thesis, Natalie loves birding, and often disappears to remote locations to look for another feathery find for her list. She also works with the RYA as an environmental advisor and volunteers for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the British Trust for Ornithology. For someone outside in all weathers, she owns an almost shocking amount of pink clothing and refuses to stop dying her hair ridiculous colours. 


Kirsteen McColganLocal Logistics and Volunteers

Kirsteen McColgan is handling local logistics and overseeing volunteers at IMCC3.

Kirsteen McColgan is handling local logistics and overseeing volunteers at IMCC3.

Kirsteen lives in the beautiful village of Lochwinnoch, about half an hour from Glasgow, surrounded by stunning countryside and a wealth of nature. With a background in marketing and communications, she is relishing the opportunity to use her practical skills in promotion and writing to engage with marine conservationists and, ultimately, bring about change. She’s looking forward to experiencing the International Marine Conservation Congress.


Tunnock’s and Me: A Marine Biologist’s Love Affair with Scottish Sweets


Marine biologist Natalie Welden’s love affair with Tunnock’s  products prompted her to ask the family-owned and operated Scottish sweets company to become a sponsor of the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress, taking place in Glasgow 14-18 August. Welden, a member of the IMCC3 Local Organizing Committee, was unsure of what their response might be (a sweets company and a marine conservation conference?). To our delight, Tunnock’s gladly offered to become an IMCC3 sponsor. Welden was so delighted, she wanted to share her Tunnock’s love story.

Tunnock’s and Me

by Natalie Welden

Tunnock's, a family-run Scottish company, is a sponsor of the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress. (Photo by Natalie Welden)

Tunnock’s, a family-run Scottish company, is a sponsor of the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress. (Photo by Natalie Welden)

Some days you find yourself hard at work on a paper, others you find yourself leaving the house at 10pm to take photographs of confectionary in the sunset. Not a bad night for it really. There are sandwich terns foraging just off the headland, the Waverly (our last seagoing paddle steamer) is chuffing past, and there are blissfully few midges. I wish I could say that the otters put in an appearance, but I’d be lying. There is, of course, a very logical reason for my snack-based walk. One of the sponsors of the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress is Tunnock’s, a Scottish family-run business, who have been making delicious chocolaty snacks since 1890.

However, my Tunnock’s addiction began long before I moved to Scotland. When I was a teenager, my dad used to pack Tunnock’s caramel wafers in our lunch boxes for our hill-walking trips. There’s no better source of energy than a hot cup of coffee and a caramel wafer when you’re half way up a rain-soaked mountainside.

When I swapped cold, damp mountains for cold, damp research boats, the wafers came with me. And on arriving in Scotland, I branched out to include the marshmallow-filled Tunnock’s Teacakes in my snack box. They’ve kept me awake and functioning on cetacean trips in the Hebrides and bird surveys in the Irish Sea. I’ve been soaked, sunburned, and sea sick all in one trip, but I’ve certainly not been hungry. It’s become a little bit of a running joke at my expense; last year I even managed to decorate my Christmas tree using Teacake wrappers – it was my most delicious decorating session to date. In my opinion, Tunnock’s is fieldwork fuel (and they’re welcome to use that as a slogan if they pay off my uni debts).

If you want to try some for yourself, you can pick up a tiny taste of Scottish sweetness at registration, but move fast. I’ll be first in the queue.


IMCC3 Co-Chair Dr. John Cigliano Asseverates the Necessity of Conservation Education and Public Engagement

Dr. John Cigliano is the Co-Chair and Scientific Program Chair of the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress

Dr. John Cigliano is the Co-Chair and Scientific Program Chair of the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress

Dr. John Cigliano’s fascination with octopuses started with watching The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau as a child. He studied the behavioral ecology of octopuses as a graduate student. But, as his studies progressed, he became aware of just how serious are the conservation issues affecting marine ecosystems. So, after completing his Ph.D., he decided to change his focus to marine conservation and conservation education. Cigliano continues to emphasize conservation education of all varieties, from formal classroom settings to informal outreach sessions in the field.

Cigliano is currently the Director of Environmental Conservation and Professor of Biology at Cedar Crest College. He is also the meeting Co-Chair and Scientific Program Chair of the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC3).  About serving as Chair of IMCC3, Cigliano said, “It’s a privilege to chair IMCC3. I can think of no better way to advance marine conservation than to help bring together so many people who are so passionate about the conservation of marine biodiversity.”

Cigliano assisted with organizing previous IMCCs, and he was the Chair of the International Congress for Conservation Biology in 2013.

IMCC is the international conference of the Society for Conservation Biology Marine Section, for which Cigliano serves as the President. “I can’t stress enough how important IMCCs have become,” he emphasized. “They are now the premier gathering for marine conservationists, both researchers and practitioners. What really makes IMCCs special is the emphasis on solutions, as evidenced by the overall theme of all IMCCs: Making Marine Science Matter. It’s not only about research or doom and gloom, but about practice and success.”

He is actively involved in citizen science and promotes the various ways citizen science can be used in conservation research. He is an organizer for a symposium at IMCC3 on Making Citizen Science Matter, along with a focus group following the symposium.

Cigliano uses citizen scientists in all of his research and has developed, tested, and assessed conservation-related educational material as part of the Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners of the American Museum of Natural History. He said, “Ultimately we need to educate the public and develop future conservationists if we are going to be effective in conserving biodiversity.”

Cigliano has specialized in octopus ecology and behavior, the conservation of marine fisheries, ocean acidification and climate change,  citizen science and conservation education.

Cigliano has specialized in octopus ecology and behavior, the conservation of marine fisheries, ocean acidification and climate change, citizen science and conservation education.

Since receiving a Ph.D., Cigliano has researched the conservation of marine fisheries, focusing on queen conch. He recently decided to take his research in a slightly different direction—the effects of ocean acidification and climate change on marine animal behavior and intertidal community structure. He is starting a new research project in Acadia National Park on the effects of ocean acidification and climate change on the structure of rocky intertidal communities.

Follow Cigliano on Twitter @TieDyedSeas.

Whisky: The Water of Life


The 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress is being held in Scotland, home to Scotch Whisky. Dr. Chris Parsons, marine scientist and whisky enthusiast, shares information on Scotch Whisky for IMCC3 delegates. For more information on distilleries near IMCC3 host city Glasgow and other regions of Scotland, check out ScotlandWhisky, VisitScotland and Scotland’s Malt Whisky Trail.

Whisky: The water of life

by Chris Parsons

The word whisky comes from uisge beatha, the Gaelic for “water of life” of “frisky water”. Irish whiskey has an “e” in it thanks to marketers a in the last century wanted to distinguish ‘classier’ Irish whiskey from large quantities of Scottish rotgut that was on the market. Oh, how times change. But nevertheless, Scotch is now always spelt whisky.

First of all I should point out the differences between vodka and whisky. Vodka, despite common misperceptions, is not made from potatoes, but can be distilled from anything with sugars that can ferment to produce alcohol. What makes it vodka is that it is distilled to as close as pure alcohol as possible, and is then cut with water. Most of the actual flavor of vodka is more to do with the quality of water that dilutes the spirit than the alcohol itself. Crappy water = crappy vodka.

Scotch is essentially distilled beer, but unlike vodka, but it’s only distilled to a 75% alcohol content, and the final spirit contains ‘impurities’ that give it much of its flavor. The rest of the flavor and character comes from the aging process, or malting process in single malts, but more of that later…

As I said, Scotch whisky is, basically distilled beer from barley grain. The most sophisticated (and interesting) of the Scotch types, in terms of flavor and process, is single malt, and that’s what I’ll mostly be describing here. In single malt whisky, the barley is soaked in water for two or three days (the quality of the water is an important factor in the character of the whisky) and then the grain is spread out allowed to germinate for a week or more – this is the malting process during which many of the starches in the grain transform into a variety of sugars. This stage is time and labor intensive and is skipped in other types of whiskies, but it’s this process that gives single malts much of their complexity. After the germination stage, the grain is dried, and this stage can also add to the flavor of the whisky. Traditionally single malts are dried in a kiln fueled by peat. The more smoke that’s allowed to permeate the gain, the peatier whisky (e.g. malts from the island of Islay are smoked heavily and therefore very peaty). Again this significantly adds to the flavor in single malts, as opposed to other whiskies.

The grain is then ground up into grist and poured into a large barrel or mash tun to which water is added (again the type of water is important, and the chemical composition of the water source is important in the final flavor of the whisky). The sugars in the grain dissolve in the water and the sugary liquid, or wort is drained off. More water is added to the grist, and wort drawn off. The number of times this happens is variable and is distillery-specific.

The liquid is then has yeast added and fermentation starts on the wash as the liquid is now called. The wash is fermented for about 2 days, with a final alcohol content of about 7-8%.
Now comes the distilling. For single malts, a ‘pot’ still is used (which looks like a big copper Hershey’s kiss) and the liquid is distilled in batches. This again is distinctive from other whiskies where distillation is continuous (in a so called Coffey still), a process which is faster and not so labor intensive.

The first distillation (referred to as the low wines; 20-25% alcohol) is taken off and distilled again (to become 75% alcohol). From this second distillate the first part (foreshot) and end part (feints) are returned to a batch the low wine for re-distilling, as they contain some noxious impurities. The middle cut or spirit is drawn off, and will be used for the whisky itself. The decision when to ‘ cut’ is partly automated, but some distilleries rely on a still man who makes their decision based on experience, and partly magic.

The spirit is then placed in casks to age. The location for aging is important as it can affect the flavor – for example the salty sea air of Laphroaig distillery gives their whisky a distinct iodine/hospital smell (that’s due to a high iodine concentration in aerosolized sea salt that permeate the casks).

For single malts the casks are charred oak bourbon barrels imported from the US (under US law bourbon barrels can only be used once). During the aging process the spirit reacts with the oak barrels, going from a clear to a golden color. The longer the spirit is aged, usually the deeper the color (and the mellower and less harsh the taste). For some brands, the spirit is transferred to a sherry, port, wine, or madeira cask to ‘finish’ (usually for two years) and again it picks up some subtle flavoring due to reactions with the wine infused cask wood.

During the aging process 40-50% of the whisky evaporates away and is lost. This is referred to as “the angel’s share” (as an aside I highly recommend the Scottish movie “the Angel’s Share” a fun “heist” movie, although non-Glaswegians will probably need sub-titles).

When aging is completed the whisky is bottled. Scotch has to be aged at least a three years and a day, with most Scotch being 8 years. Most single malts are aged 10 years. Sometimes whiskies of different ages are mixed together, but the age you see on the bottle will be the youngest batch in the mix. However, your bottle may be mixed with an older batch, often to give a more mellowed flavor. “Single cask” whisky is drawn from just one cask, and not mixed. The whisky is 55-57% alcohol at this stage, and so has to be cut with water again, to 40% (or 43% for export) with the signature water supply before bottling (unless it’s bottled as “cask strength”). Once in the bottle, although there may be a little evaporation, there is no further aging as such – unlike wine, there is negligible oxidization in the bottle. So you might as well drink it.

Single malts can consist of multiple age batches, from multiple casks, but from only one type of whisky at a specific distillery. Blended scotches can have up to 40 different types of whisky within, from multiple distilleries, some single malt, but much of it grain whisky (see American whiskies below). But they all have to be made in Scotland under Scottish distilling laws.

For each region of Scotland, single malts have a slightly different flavor. Lowland malts are slightly citrusy, Islay malts are very peaty, Speyside malts are sweet and slightly fruity, and highland malts have vanilla and spicy tones.

My personal favourite is Glenmorangie (port or madeira wood finish). It’s also the favorite of Connor and Duncan MacLeod of the Clan Macleod, so for me there can be only one. At the moment I have 22 bottles of single malt in the house, and some high end bourbons too.
As a final note, Scotch should never be drunk with ice. That is sacrilegious. Connoisseurs will a tiny bit of water, no more than a teaspoonful, to their whisky, and this will in fact help bring out the favor of the scotch – IF, AND ONLY IF, the water is the best spring water. Adding crappy faucet/tap water to your fine Scotch is just plain dumb. You can now (from get ‘whisky stones’ for your Scotch – pieces of granite that you can cool in your freezer, and chill your scotch without diluting on contaminating it. These are fine, although they will show down evaporation and you’ll lose some of the bouquet of the whisky. Just be careful how you wash the stones after – and do not, as a friend did, scrub them with detergent, or you’ll have forever soapy-tasting whisky.

Anyone who puts coke, or even worse, Iron-bru, in good single malt, deserves to fry (in batter) in a special layer of hell.

P.S. In the US, whiskies are usually denoted by the cereal grain that the mash is largely (at least 51%) derived from, although bourbon is 51% corn (maize), whereas corn whiskey has a mash that is 80% corn. Bourbon that has been aged at least 2 (often 4) years and doesn’t have added colorings, flavorings or grain spirits, can be called straight bourbon. In addition to bourbon & corn whiskey, you will find barley, wheat and rye whiskies in the US (barley whiskies in the US may also be malted in a process similar, but not identical, to single malt Scotch too). Tennessee whiskey is essentially bourbon, but some distilleries filter the whisky through sugar maple charcoal, which is supposed to improve the flavor. Canadian whiskies are different again (mostly corn/wheat with other grains aged 3-6 years typically, and are usually blended, even if they are referred to as “rye” whisky). The one exception is Glenora (Nova Scotia) which is a pot stilled, single malt, produced in Scottish fashion, that I am extremely curious to try.

-Dr. Chris Parsons is the chair of IMCC3 and a whisky afficianado