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Student Diary | A day in the life of a Marine Sciences student

Student Diary | A day in the life of a Marine Sciences student

by Tori
Curious to find out what a typical day is like for a Marine Science student? Find out why Tori chose to study her course and what she thinks about student life so far...

Hi! My name is Tori and I’m currently a third year BSc Marine Biology student here in Newcastle.

From the first day of first year, it was clear that this course would be very much hands on. Over the past three years we have been on lots of field weeks. From sand dunes and mudflats, to the North West of Scotland and even Bermuda, Mexico and Portugal.

Tori Hume 3

One of the best things about the course is the workshops on Newcastle University’s very own research vessel: The Princess Royal. On these boat days, you'll take part in a different workshop each time including:

  • microplastic analysis
  • light attenuation with depth
  • the fish trawls (my favourite)

Getting up at the crack of dawn and jumping on the metro to the coast can be tough. It's all worth it once you're on the vessel and out at sea. These workshops are some of my best and most exciting memories from the course.

Princess Royal Research Vessel

We also study at the Dove Marine Laboratory in Cullercoats. You arrive with your wellies, waterproofs and lunches in hand, admiring the sun rising over the sea. You'll then jump onto a minibus and drive to the Blyth Marine Station, where the Princess Royal and its team will be waiting for you. Depending on the focus of the workshop, you might be heading up the rivers Tyne, Blyth or even out to sea.

Once on board, you have your safety briefing and secure your life-jackets, the boat sets off. In my most recent workshop, we performed three trawls at three different locations to study the species found in these areas.

Fish trawl analysis is the messiest process! Equipped with gloves, buckets, callipers and your notebooks. The contents of the first trawl are emptied onto the table and you're tasked with identifying different species. Hundreds of fish, crabs, shrimp, lobsters and the odd octopus. You'll learn to identify every single species on the table, logging the quantity, size and even their gender. There are many different species of flatfish that all look the same. By the end of the workshop, you'll know a Plaice from a Sole and a Dab from a Flounder, simply by running your finger along its back or fins.

Tori Hume 1

With every fish trawl, you might notice a gathering trail of seagulls following you as you return your catch to the sea. This is repeated for the next two trawls. Now drenched in fish slime and seaweed, you record your findings in a huge excel spread sheet. Your analysis will contribute to research of species in the North Sea.

I recommend taking sea sickness pills too, especially if you have been out the night before…

Enjoy yourselves!


Interested in finding out more about studying Marine Science at Newcastle University? Discover the practicalities of our degrees, career prospects, and opportunities to study abroad in our Biology and Biological Sciences subject page.