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17th Century Shipwreck To Reveal Its Secrets

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One of England’s most important 17th century shipwrecks, the London, which is rapidly deteriorating on the seabed off Southend-on-Sea in Essex is being excavated by English Heritage and Cotswold Archaeology to discover and retrieve many of the ship’s artefacts before they are lost forever. The London sank in the Thames Estuary nearly 350 years ago in 1665 after mysteriously blowing up en route from Chatham to The Hope, near Gravesend in Kent.

The London was one of only three completed wooden Second Rate ‘Large Ships’ that were built between1642 – 1660 and is the only one that survives. Now lying in two parts off Southend-on-Sea, the London played a significant role in British history as it formed part of an English Squadron sent in 1658 to collect Charles II and restore him to his throne in an effort to end the anarchy which followed the death of Oliver Cromwell.

English Heritage’s marine archaeologist Mark Dunkley said: “We are hoping to recover some rare and well-preserved items which will provide a great insight into the English Navy during an unsettled time when Britain was emerging as a global power. While the hull of the ship will remain on the seabed for the foreseeable future, the recovery and display of vulnerable artefacts will aid our understanding of life on board ship in the late 17th century and enable us to remove the wreck from our Heritage at Risk Register.”

Over the next two years, English Heritage has commissioned Cotswold Archaeology to carry out an underwater excavation in order to find out just how much archaeological material survives. Divers will be excavating three trenches in the bow of the wreck, exploring archaeological remains in the hold, the orlop deck where the anchor cables are, the main gun deck as well as carpenter and boatswains store rooms which would have contained tools and timber stores. Based on test dives of the site, expected finds include personal items such as leather shoes and navigational dividers, buckets, pots and cooking utensils, ship fixtures and fittings such as door latches, an anchor cable and ordnance including cannon balls.

The London was rediscovered in 2005 during works in advance of the London Gateway Port development in Thurrock, Essex. In October 2008, it was designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act (1973) and immediately placed on English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk register as its fragile archaeological remains were being exposed by shifting sediment levels on the seabed.

Steven Ellis, an experienced Thames Estuary diver who has been granted the Government licence to dive the wreck, working closely with Cotswold Archaeology, said: “Although the underwater dive conditions are difficult with limited visibility, we are looking forward to bringing up some exciting finds! ”

Finds recovered from the site will be curated by Southend Museums Service which has secured a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to develop a community project to record the finds as well as create a permanent display at the Southend Museums Service headquarters. There will also be a publication produced about the wreck.

Clare Hunt, Curatorial Manager at Southend Museums Service, said: “This hidden wreck lies just off Southend Pier, which is visited by thousands each year, yet the wreck remains largely unknown. It’s part of our local as well as our national history and we’re inviting local people to get involved in recording these ship finds.”

Southend Museums Service and Steve Ellis with his dive team are a contender for this year’s English Heritage Angel Awards for their work on the London. The Angel Awards, co-funded by the Andrew-Lloyd Webber Foundation, celebrate local people who rescue heritage at risk and will be announced at a glittering ceremony in London on 3 November 2014.

For more information, visit www.english-heritage.org.uk.

Marine Life & Conservation

Join us in supporting Dive Project Cornwall Crowdfunder Project

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Do you have a moment to help protect our oceans?

We’re on a mission and have partnered with DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL to help protect our oceans for future generations to cherish and enjoy.

DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL is a unique EDUCATION and EXPERIENCE initiative, reaching over 3,000 schools with their Ocean Education Programme, inspiring the next generation to protect our oceans for everyone to cherish and enjoy.

At the heart of the project is a competition for 400 lucky teenagers to win the EXPERIENCE of a lifetime. They will take the learning from the classroom straight to the shores of Porthkerris on a 6-day, life changing trip where they will learn to scuba dive and be taught the importance of marine conservation. They will become ‘Ocean Influencers’ for the future.

DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL needs our help.

Can you join us with a gift to DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL?

Whether it’s £5 or £50, a gift from you to the DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL Crowdfunder Project will help their vision of protecting our oceans through the innovative experience designed for school children.

Will you join us and pledge to support 400 lucky teenagers learn from and EXPERIENCE the ocean like never before and give them an EDUCATION they can use to inspire others, not forgetting the memories that will last a lifetime?

For more information, you can read the DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL story HERE.

Help us create the next generation of Ocean Influencers with a donation to DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL and ensure our oceans (and planet) are protected for the future.

WWW.CROWDFUNDER.CO.UK/P/DIVE-PROJECT-CORNWALL

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Marine Life & Conservation

Spring jellyfish blooms bring turtles to UK shores

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Marine Conservation Society’s wildlife sightings project asks beachgoers to share their discoveries and contribute to research

The Marine Conservation Society’s long-running wildlife sightings project focuses on two key species which arrive on UK shores: jellyfish and, as a result, turtles. Both species are vital in supporting ocean biodiversity and are indicators of climate change while being at risk from its impacts.

The charity is asking beach and seagoers to share when they spot either of these marine animals to support ongoing research.

During spring and summer, jellyfish arrive in the UK’s warming waters to feed on plankton blooms or, in fact, anything small enough to get caught. To that extent, jellyfish feed not only on plankton, but also the array of eggs and larvae of fish, crustaceans, starfish and molluscs which rely on plankton as a stage of reproduction.

With healthy fish stocks and rich biodiversity, jellyfish quickly become part of an effective food chain. Everything from tuna to turtles will feed on jellyfish of various sizes, so the population is well controlled. Supported by a rich and diverse ocean ecosystem, jellyfish link the microscopic world of plankton to larger marine animals and the ocean around them.

Jellyfish are especially appealing for marine turtles. Six of the world’s seven marine turtle species have been spotted in UK seas as a result of jellyfish blooms in spring and summer.

The largest sea turtle, and the most common in UK seas, is the leatherback which has a ‘vulnerable’ conservation status. Reporting sightings of these incredible creatures will support the Marine Conservation Society and others in understanding their movements, potential threats and how to better protect them.

Amy Pilsbury, Citizen Science Project Lead at the Marine Conservation Society, said:“For more than 17 years, beachgoers across the UK have been contributing to scientific research by sharing their wildlife sightings with us. It’s a key part of our work and plays a vital role in better understanding and protecting our ocean.”

In 2014, with partners from the University of Exeter, the Marine Conservation Society published the first paper from the survey data, confirming key information about UK jellyfish and including the first distribution maps of the surveyed species.

Since the 2014 paper, the wildlife sightings project has recorded notable events such as massive and extensive annual blooms of barrel jellyfish and several summers of Portuguese Man o’ War mass strandings.

The charity continues to run its wildlife sightings project to see what happens to the distribution and frequency of mass jellyfish blooms over time. The data will help to explore any links jellyfish blooms have with big-picture factors such as climate change.

Jellyfish can be spotted year-round in UK seas, but larger blooms are more likely to appear in spring, lasting through until autumn. Jellyfish sighting records from 2021 suggest that compass jellyfish are the most common around UK shores, making up 36% of reported sightings.

Jellyfish species Percentage of sightings reported
Compass jellyfish 36%
Moon jellyfish 17%
Lion’s mane jellyfish 15%
Barrel jellyfish 14%
Blue jellyfish 9%
Portuguese Man o’ War 6%
Mauve stinger 2%
By the wind sailor 1%

For more information on how to identify jellyfish and turtles, and to report a sighting, please visit the Marine Conservation Society’s website.

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