In our regular feature in Business 365 magazine, published by Mannin Media, authors from different walks of Manx life offer a personal perspective on #MyBiosphere. This month, Laura McCoy writes:
Late 2017 I moved to the Isle of Man to work for Manx National Heritage as the Curator of Natural History. Before then, aside from a weekend spent frantically looking for somewhere to live, I had never been here before except a few hours for the interview, and, other than a bit of Googling and swotting up, everything was relatively unknown. Fortunately my boyfriend agreed to take the plunge with me and we rented a nice little flat in old Peel, looking out onto the bay.
I have moved around a lot, living in a fair few places around the world and I have found it very easy to settle on the Island and make friends; perhaps it is because of the small population, but the community feel is very apparent.
I also have to say that I am very lucky. I work with a great team of people and have learnt so much from them about the history of the Isle of Man. I have front row seats every day listening to experts talk about Vikings, internment, art, archaeology, architecture, folklore, Gaelic, you name it; you could say it has been a crash course in Manx culture.
Obviously I have to mention the natural history, it is my vocation after all. Although the Isle of Man has no endemic species that we know of (yet), it has a unique combination of characteristics from the territories surrounding it, and that is due in part to its history, geography and geology. I still find it remarkable that I see or hear Choughs nearly every day, that spotting Ravens is common place and Hen Harriers are not unusual, most people in the British Isles have to go to special effort to see these things and are not always successful in catching a glimpse of them.
Laura McCoy with a puffer fish donated to the Manx Museum in the 1930s
Just this morning I spent a good half an hour watching Moonlight and Starlight, our resident dolphins for the last year or so; how lucky I am, I will try never to take these experiences for granted. And the orchids, how could I forget the orchids?! Never in my life have I seen so many in profusion, all down to the excellent management of Close Sartfield by Manx Wildlife Trust, Tricia Sayle and her trusty Muckers.
My hope is that we will continue to work towards a more sustainable future and live more in harmony with our surroundings, that the community spirit I see so much evidence of will help this transition. We have begun this already, with great initiatives like Beach Buddies and Plastic Busters, and there are more changes to come with the Climate Change Bill and Agri-Environment Scheme. Making space for nature can start small, like leaving dandelions and daisies in your lawn for the bees, or why not plant a tree with the Manx Woodland Trust?
Every year Manx National Heritage, in association with Manx Wildlife Trust, runs Manx Wildlife Week, which has loads of events, many of them free, so that you can get closer to nature. The more you know about the earth, the more you love it and the harder you will work to help it.
Laura McCoy is Curator of Natural History at Manx National Heritage.