Meet the team

In August 2017, a group of friends, passionate about the natural world, travelled by canoe from Maenporth beach, Cornwall, to one of the best rock pooling sites in the county. 

As well as discovering some amazing wildlife, we realised a shared desire to build a project that would help connect children and adults with nature in safe, enjoyable and innovative ways. By sharing our fascination and love of the natural world with others, we can better protect and learn more about the marine environment, together. We have grown into a strong team who run a whole range of exciting educational and scientific events and activities.

Dr Ben Holt


Co-Founder of the Rock Pool Project, Ben is a prominent marine ecologist, specialising in citizen science –  empowering people of all ages to collect vital information about the environment which can be used for scientific studies.  Ben has trained and led hundreds of members of the public to survey our coastlines and contribute meaningfully to marine science and conservation.

Ben’s extensive scientific career also saw him working with the Reef Environmental Education Foundation citizen science programme; utilising the data collected by volunteers on the project to produce successful scientific papers on Caribbean fish biodiversity. 

He aims to uses expertise, experiences and passion for the local area to open the door to the wonderful world of rock pools in Cornwall and Devon to people of all ages and backgrounds.

Alan Smith


The other Co-Founder of the Rock Pool Project, Ben is a prominent marine ecologist, specialising in citizen scien, Alan is an innovative, passionate primary school teacher, Alan has experience teaching in the UK and at Dubai British School. With his experience in leadership and management, as well as in coordinating science, he relishes the opportunity to weave the national curriculum into fascinating, hands-on learning opportunities for children of all backgrounds. 

After obtaining a BSc degree in Marine Biology at Swansea University (where he first met Ben!), Alan worked as Assistant Editor and Copy Writer for ‘The Trailfinder’, Britain’s largest travel magazine, before returning to Plymouth to gain a PGCE in Primary Education. After a three-year stint teaching in the UAE, Alan returned home, to Plymouth, in order to pursue his two great passions – teaching and marine environmental science. 

Dion Saaymann


Dion is Head of Marketing and Design for an international import and export company, as well as running his own successful clothing printing business. Having studied fine art and design in South Africa, he moved to the UK, working for the Government and becoming an affiliate member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Now based in Cornwall, Dion has fallen in love with the ocean, having grown up far away from any coast. He has helped to design and build our incredible mobile rock pool and his wealth of experience in business and marketing contributes greatly to the growing success of The Rock Pool Project.

Nicola Kneebone


Nicola has lived and worked in Cornwall for the last twenty years, predominantly in the tourism sector and, like us all, is no stranger to the beach! Nicola helps out enormously with our marketing and communications, thanks to her experience, energy and connections across the county.

Will Forbes


Will is currently an intern with the Rock Pool Project. As a student at Exeter University studying Conservation Biology and Ecology, he is unafraid to get his hands wet, or be pinched by crabs! He has lots of experience with the water being a sea and whitewater kayaker, and has a good knowledge of birds as well. He is also a private tutor for science, so is very good with children!

Meaghan Castledine


Meaghan is an evolutionary biologist researching evolution in microbial communities. She has grown up rock pooling and exploring the British countryside.

Christophe Patterson


Christophe is a Masters’ student at the University of Exeter in Cornwall. He loves the tidal zone – and loves how it gets people excited about wildlife and the great outdoors.

Olivia Elliott

Olivia has a degree in sports medical sciences from the University of Exeter. When she was younger she wanted to be a mermaid (and still does!) as she adores the sea; swimming, surfing and exploring it all whilst being mesmerized by its clever inhabitants. After completing her internship with us, she will begin a PGCE in secondary biology in order to continue learning and helping others reach their potential.

Darren Sutton


Darren is a mature student who is currently studying a foundation degree in Marine science at Falmouth Marine school. He is a passionate person with a deep love for the sea and the rocky shore and all its inhabitants. When he’s not on the sea paddle boarding he loves to Scuba dive and see what lies beneath.

Eleanor Stanton


Eleanor is a student at the University of Exeter studying Marine Biology. She spends a lot of time surfing and paddle boarding around our beautiful Cornish coast, and has experience with children through volunteering for the Wave Project. She loves all things marine including rock pooling!

Eleanor Turner


Eleanor is studying Environmental Science at the University of Exeter in Cornwall. She loves the environment and spends a lot of her free time doing beach cleans and learning about marine life as she goes. She works behind the scenes at The Rock Pool Project, organising the data that rock poolers collect and producing the reports you receive after you take part in an event.

Prentice England

Prentice is a keen technologist and has helped with ongoing developments to the project’s website. Having spent his childhood in Australia and Britain he has had plenty of opportunity to enjoy the diversity of the marine environment across two very different countries.

Steve Bishop


Living in South-East Cornwall with his three young children, the beach is a second home to Steve and his family. He has ten years’ experience working as a primary school teacher and PE coordinator and has a real love of the great outdoors. Steve passionately believes that rock pooling offers so much in terms of education, child development, sense of place and conservation. But, above all, it is great fun!