Karen is a Marine Mammal Advisor for NatureScot (formally known as Scottish Natural Heritage), Scotland’s nature agency advising the Scottish Government. She started as an Area Officer 21 years ago, taking a lead on marine issues and covering the west side and islands of Fair isle, Foula and Papa Stour. For the last 14 years, she has moved into a policy & advice role, providing advice on marine mammals at a local, Scottish and UK level whilst still fortunately being based in Shetland.
Karen has maintained strong links with the Fair Isle community and helped them secure the first and only (so far) Demonstration & Research Marine Protected Area. She is responsible for organising work placements locally at NatureScot and routinely supervises MSc projects. She is also a co-supervisor for a University of St Andrews PhD on killer whales. Prior to working for NatureScot, Karen was based in Shetland Islands Council working with Rick Nickerson of KIMO investigating the economic and social impacts of marine litter. A topic she has kept involved in through development of Scotlands Marine Litter Strategy.
Outside of work, Karen is a Director of Fair Isle Bird Observatory Trust and hopes to develop more links with the UHI. Currently the Trust are all working hard on the rebuild process following a fire to the building in 2019. She is also the regional coordinator for Seawatch which requires collating cetacean sightings from around Shetland, and providing information about the data back to the many citizen scientists involved in providing sightings. She is lucky enough to have a house overlooking the sea and most days will find time to do a scan herself.