The Marine Advisory Group provide specialist advice and expertise on marine-related content and activities.
Professor John Baxter
John is Principal Adviser – Marine at Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), where he is responsible for the coordination of the SNH marine research, survey and monitoring work, providing quality assurance of all research outputs. He has also acted as Unit Head in the organisation’s Policy and Advice Directorate, as well as its National Oil Spill Response Advisor.
John represents SNH on a number of high level inter-agency and inter-governmental steering groups at both the Scottish and UK levels including the Special Committee on Seals (SCOS), and the Healthy and Biologically Diverse Seas Evidence Group. John is Chief Editor (Marine and Coastal) of the international journal ‘Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems’ publishing 6 issues per year. He has published many papers and holds an honorary readership at the University of St Andrews, among others.
Ailsa is Director of the Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St Andrews. She is responsible for the overall management of the Unit and its staff, ensuring it fulfils its joint roles of carrying out world-leading discovery science and policy related research on marine mammals, from the poles to the tropics.
In terms of the UK, SMRU also has statutory duties to provide advice to government on the conservation and management of marine mammals.
Her personal research interests are all aimed at determining the effect of disease and pollution on marine mammal populations, both seals and cetaceans. She is also very interested in the physiological adaptations of mammals to a marine existence, particularly at the molecular level; such as the adaptations and strategies that allow animals to forage at depth and to cope with long periods of fasting.
Ailsa also represents UK marine mammal expertise in a number of international forums such as the International Whaling Commission and was an Expert Scientist for the US Government during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Jenni is a Senior Marine Biologist at Marine Environmental Unit, Marine Services, Orkney Islands Council. The Marine Environmental Unit was established in the 1970’s and since then has carried out long-term monitoring of marine environment in Scapa Flow and in wider Orkney Island archipelago. Jenni is responsible for leading and carrying out the monitoring work which includes; marine non-native species, sandy and rocky shore intertidal and radiological monitoring as well as ballast water sampling and contract work under taken by the Unit.
She is a UK member of the International Centre of Explorations of the Seas (ICES) Working Group on Ballast and Other Ship Vectors and ICES Working Group on Introductions and Transfers of Marine Organisms. Jenni is an enthusiastic scuba diver and is part of the Marine Conservation Society’s Seasearch group in Orkney and has in the past been part of the Heriot Watt University’s scientific diving team in Scapa Flow. She is currently working on a part-time PhD with Heriot Watt University on sandy beach ecosystems of Scapa Flow.
A strong interest in the marine environment from an early age influenced the course of Sarah's studies. After a degree in Zoology and a masters in Marine and Fisheries Science, itchy feet ensured that numerous expeditions to far flung places followed; Solomon Islands working on Fruit bats, Falkland Islands working on squid and Belize surveying a coral reef did not pay the bills, so jobs with the Marine Lab in Aberdeen, SNH, Sea Life Surveys and for the St Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve as Ranger were found.
Sarah is currntly the Project Officer for the St Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve.
Dan is a well-respected world leader on Marine Protected Areas and ocean conservation. Scientist, communicator and conservationist, at IUCN he works in close partnership with the Global Marine and Polar Programme in the global honorary role of Marine Vice Chair for IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas. For over 30 years Dan has been responsible for the creation of many global, European and UK public and private sector partnerships, alliances and frameworks that underpin modern-day marine conservation.
This work includes creating the concept of Blue Carbon, scaling up action and global programmes for marine World Heritage and conservation of the High Seas, the creation of the framework for Marine Protected Areas under the Habitats Directive in Europe, core guidance on Marine Spatial Planning with UNESCO, and the creation of the 3D ocean on Google Earth and Maps which has benefited in excess of a billion people worldwide.
John has worked in nature conservation for 38 years. From 1974 he was with the RSPB where he became head of their nature reserves in Scotland. From 1995 he was Programme Manager with the Millennium Forest for Scotland Trust, a lottery funded initiative supporting projects throughout Scotland to restore native woodlands for their conservation and community benefits and following that he was Chairman of Borders Forest Trust.
He coordinates and leads the SOS Puffin project which takes out volunteers to the islands to control the invasive plant tree mallow. John has lived in North Berwick for over thirty years.
Joanne is an Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the International Centre for Island Technology, the Orkney Campus of Heriot Watt University, in Stromness, Orkney Islands. Joanne is a member of the Scottish Biodiversity Information Forum steering group and is also a Scientific Associate affiliated to the Department of Life Sciences at the Natural History Museum London, with specialist taxonomic expertise in the phylum Bryozoa.
She is a keen SCUBA and rebreather diver using the tools of diving to conduct experimental and monitoring work on the seabed up to 50m depth and using trimix gases. Joanne leads a research team of PhD, MSc and BSc students running a variety of projects on marine biodiversity, marine benthic ecology and marine biotechnology.
In her spare time she is a keen contributor to the Seasearch volunteer diver recording scheme and a Seasearch Specialist Tutor providing workshops on marine life identification to volunteer divers. Joanne has also recently been involved with a Ghostfishing UK project to clean up discarded items from the seabed in Scapa Flow and to train volunteer divers to recognise and record the key marine species impacted during survey dives.
Mike is a professor at the Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban. His research focusses on the ecology of shallow water and intertidal ecosystems. Most recently this research has addressed how such systems are responding to global climate change, and how coastal vegetation including kelp forests contributes to carbon sequestration in marine systems. Mike is particularly interested in detecting effects of climate change in rocky shore animals and plants, and is involved in the Heritage-Lottery-funded “Capturing Our Coast” programme aimed at training volunteers as citizen scientists to gather the data needed on the changing distribution and abundance of such species to detect such change.
Image courtesy of George Stoyle (c) SNH.