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Michael Scott - Cruise Ship Speaker

Michael Scott OBE, B.Sc:

A Brief Autobiography

Since I decided it was time to 'retire' as a freelance writer, broadcaster and consultant in 2016, I have been hugely privileged to spend a large part of the year exploring the world as a guest speaker on cruise ships. In that time, I have visited many parts of the world from Svalbard in the far north to Cape Horn and Antarctica in the far south, and the hot places in between. See here for more details of my cruise ship travels.

The website author in a wild landscape On cruise ship duty off Ushuaia, Argentina in 2019.

On the cruises, I basically share with the guests my enthusiasm for the wildlife we are seeing, at sea and around the ports.  In many ways, almost all my past freelance experiences have fed into this role, as you can read below.

I have been fascinated by wildlife and natural history since childhood (this is one of my earliest photos, of Chi-Chi the Giant Panda in London Zoo, taken when I was about 10). I discovered Botany when I went to Aberdeen University, and mountain flowers, in particular, have been a passion ever since, which is why I particularly enjoy visiting the Arctic on cruise ships.

After my degree, I took a Diploma of Education, then worked in the Education Unit of Edinburgh Zoo and the Youth Service of the World Wildlife Fund (as it was then), before going freelance in 1980.

Photo of Giant Panda Chi-chi, the Giant Panda in London Zoo, around 1963

After that, I worked as a broadcaster for BBC Radio Scotland and Radio 4, mainly in programmes relating to the natural world (like this recording on the Bass Rock with gannet expert Bryan Nelson in 1992 for a Radio Scotland programme), but also science programmes, including The Litmus Test, a light-hearted science quiz for Radio 4, and was even an occasional presenter of a Scottish music and chat show called The Gathering for Radio Scotland. I also wrote and presented programmes for BBC Schools television, everywhere from the Glasgow Garden Festival to the Isle of Rum, hopefully without causing the children too much trauma!

I have written several books, and contributed to a wide variety of other publications (see here for recent publications). For many years, I worked part-time for Plantlife Scotland, the Wild Plant Conservation Charity of which I was a founder member, and I still chair the management group for Plantlife's Munsary Peatlands Reserve in Caithness.

Author with seabirds on rocky slope Interviewing the gannets on the Bass Rock

I chaired Scottish Wildlife & Countryside Link (now Scottish Environment Link) from 1995 to 1999, and was Deputy Chair of the government conservation agency, Scottish Natural Heritage (now natureScot) from 1999 until 2005.

I was awarded an OBE (embarrassingly, an 'Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire') in 2005 "for services to biodiversity conservation in Scotland" (below left) and was honoured to receive the Planta Europa Silver Leaf Award in 2007 for work in European wild plant conservation (photo below centre).