PENINSULA LIFE • OUR HERITAGE
Thalassophile is a word often used to describe a person who loves the sea and is, understandably, regularly associated with Gower locals. Living on a Peninsula such as this, you’re never more than a stone's throw from the sea at any point. Many of us start our days with a dog walk along those all-too-familiar clifftop paths, enjoy long weekends on the well-known sands, or spend any spare moment immersed in the waves on various boards in layers of neoprene.
The coast may be a second home to most of us, but very few know much about what’s below the surface of the ocean. Lauren Eyles, founder of Wild Ocean Wonders, is offering unique experiences in the impact zone with snorkelling safaris and rock hopping adventures.
Some of Gower’s best kept secrets hide just under the waves. Home to many wrecks, incredibly diverse sea life and wide expanses of rock pools, Lauren is seeking to increase access to these diverse underwater landscapes and ecosystems. Through Wild Ocean Wonders, Lauren hopes to increase water confidence, equip people to engage in citizen science and help them feel more connected to the incredible marine environment right on our doorsteps.
We caught up with Lauren on a warm summer afternoon at Oxwich Bay. After a micro-exploration of the rock pools and a dip in the sea, we sat on the sand with a cold bottle of Oxwich IPA and chatted about her passion for the conservation and marine life here on Gower.
“I studied marine biology at university and I’ve been working in marine conservation for over 15 years now. During that time I’ve worked on lots of different projects but mostly around citizen science, which is involving the public in science to collect data to better inform on a particular animal, species or problem. We then use that information to take action, tackle issues and just improve the marine environment as a whole.
Wild Ocean Wonders is all about engaging and inspiring others. So I offer wild-about experiences where we connect and involve people in the amazing marine environment we have here on Gower. There is honestly so much to see here that I think a lot of people don’t realise.
I want to show people that wonder lies just under the surface. The volume of rich sea life we have here is amazing and I want others to see how incredible the ocean environment is by involving them in these types of experiences like rock pooling and snorkelling safaris. Oftentimes, people just don’t know where to start or even what they’re looking for. That's obviously a really important part of it because if you’re not finding things then it’s not fun!
"Here on Gower there is so much to see that people wouldn't even dream of. The best way to do it is to have a truly immersive experience snorkelling. We get people kitted up in all of the gear, in the water and show them what there is to find. Not only is it great to get to guide people into these new spaces, but it also increases water confidence as well which is really important living in a place like this near the sea.
I also offer talks on really marine science topics like plastic pollution, how to monitor Orcha and how animals communicate underwater. As the south regional coordinator for a charity called the Sea Watch Foundation, I regularly provide training on identifying marine animals such as whales, dolphins and porpoises. We actually get a lot of dolphins and porpoises here on Gower. As the Sea Watch Foundation works to protect dolphins and porpoises in the UK, I want to bring people together to know not only how to identify the animals they are seeing, but also learn how to protect them.
"Originally, I grew up in Hereford but used to come to Gower on family camping holidays. I’ve now lived here for 5 years and it’s lovely. I love being by the sea - the sea makes me so happy. Being on a Peninsula is just the best!
I do what I do because I just love the ocean. I’ve always had a fascination with the sea, the marine environment and everything that lives in it; I want to know why it lives there, what it does. I knew that I wanted to be a marine biologist, I remember telling my grandma this when I was only 7 years old. So it’s really lovely to be in a place where I can make that happen. I just couldn't imagine doing anything else.
I just love being by the sea, in the sea, on the sea, I just love everything about the sea.Being here on the Gower has provided me with the most incredible lifestyle. Having the ocean right on my doorstep is something I hope I’ll never take for granted. I spend most of my time by it or in it; it’s just incredible.
I’ve always wanted to set up a business centred on marine conservation, as it’s something I’m really passionate about but never had the courage or time, but now I’m finally in a place in my life to do it. So now I get to channel all my years of experience into Wild Ocean Wonders and it’s Really exciting and see where it takes me!”
Lauren is one of the most passionate ocean enthusiasts on Gower. She cares deeply for the future of the sea and its diverse ecosystems, and, through her work with Wild Ocean Wonders, she hopes to inspire others to not only enjoy what’s already on their doorstep, but also learn to protect it. We asked her to describe her life on Gower in three words:
Sun. Sand. Sea
Alongside her work as a marine biologist, Lauren is a full-time mum. She balances her capacity between the never-ending demands of motherhood and starting up her new business. Wild Oceans Wonders is at the very beginning of its journey as Lauren carves out pockets of time to build her dream of introducing people to the wonders of the marine world. If you’re looking to get beneath the sea’s surface, drop her a line, she’d be more than happy to share the wonder with you.