Postcard: Studying the waters around Oban, Scotland


Oceanography staff and students from the Department of Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences recently visited Oban in Scotland  to participate in the 20th Sea Practical class.

At the end of their second year, students in Ocean Sciences spend three days on a research vessel, the RV Calanus, in the coastal waters around Oban in Scotland.

The Sea Practical provides invaluable training in observational oceanography, allowing students to get hands on experience at sea in sampling and data collection.

Students study all aspects of oceanography, including the impact of the weather on the sea, currents and tides, dissolved nutrients and gases, sediment geochemistry and the microscopic phytoplankton and zooplankton that live in the sea.

After three days at sea, students return to campus to spend a week in the Central Teaching Laboratories using state-of-the-art techniques to analyse their samples and interpret their data in order to understand the oceanography of the region.

Why Scotland? The coastal waters around the Firth of Lorn and Sound of Mull are deep at more than 200m in places, meaning that we can study how the ocean changes vertically between the sunlit surface ocean and the dark cold interior. In addition, the coastal waters are sheltered meaning if the wind is blowing and the waves are high, we can still get out to sea. Unfortunately, we cannot stop the rain!

The Sea Practical is considered a highlight of the degree programme in Liverpool. After 2 years of training in oceanography, the students get to put their knowledge and skill into practice to understand a complex and fascinating environment.

According to the NERC Skills review published in 2012 training in fieldwork is considered the 6th most wanted skill out of 15 in the environment sector. Thus, the Sea Practical provides skills that are in high demand by employers in the environment sector.

For more information about studying ocean sciences at Liverpool, please visit their study pages



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