Coastal Preservation
September 02 2011

2011 Enviro Intern Clara Cartwright works on Beach Ecology

by Chad Nelsen

Today is Clara Cartwright's last day as the 2011 Dillon Henry Memorial Intern in the Environmental Department of the Surfrider Foundation. Clara has been working on improving the Beach Ecology indicator for our State of the Beach report and is finalizing some case studies on best practices for considering beach ecology while managing beaches. When finished we will be publishing her work on Beachapedia and do a feature on the Coastal Blog.

Here's an opportunity to get to know Clara better.

Chad:  Tell us about yourself.

Clara: I am a graduate student at UC Santa Barbara studying coastal marine resources management. As an undergraduate at UCLA I studied biology, and after college my work experiences included protecting hawksbill sea turtles on the Big Island of Hawaii and enforcing water conservation measures for the City of Santa Cruz. I started surfing about five years ago, and since then it has probably been the biggest influence in my life, teaching me a love for the ocean and driving my passion for protecting the coastal environment.

Chad: Why did you choose to do an internship with the Surfrider Foundation?

Clara: The environmental internship matched really well with my professional goals in coastal management. I also felt that my personal outlook resonated with Surfrider's mission, and I was really excited to get involved with an organization that cares so deeply about protecting the ocean and the coast.

Chad: What is the project you are working on?

Clara: I am updating the Beach Ecology section of the State of the Beach Report. Basically, I'm looking at what coastal zone managers know about beach ecology and what they are doing to protect beach ecology for each coastal state in the US.

Chad: What do you like best about being an intern at Surfrider?

Clara: My favorite part of this internship is the people I get to work with. Everyone is so friendly and positive, and it's so great to be surrounded by people who care about the environment and are dedicated to making a difference. The lunchtime surf sessions don't hurt either.

Chad:  If you could change one thing about your internship what would it be?

Clara: I would change it so I wouldn't have to leave at the end of the summer.

Chad: What about your internship has been most surprising?

Clara: I was surprised to learn how little is done to protect beach ecology and how little scientists actually know about it. I hope my work here can help generate awareness about the beach as a natural habitat.

Chad: Where are you in school, when do you graduate and do you know what you want to do next?

Clara: I am working on a master's degree at UCSB's Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. After I graduate in June 2012, I plan to work in coastal management and live some place where I can surf.

Chad: What do you like to do with your free time when you are not studying up on beach ecology?

Clara: I've had a lot of fun this summer exploring the area around San Clemente, surfing new spots, and going on hikes.

Clara has been a great intern who works (and surfs) hard and was always game to lend a hand. The fact that she surfed T-Street this morning with giant waves and red flag conditions is a testament to her committment and skill, which she also brought to bear on her project. We wish her the best in completing grad school and joining the ranks of ocean and coastal conservationists. Thanks Clara!