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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

CoCoast: Citizen Science

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I have always loved rock pooling. It brings something alive in all of us; a desire to discover.

This month I have taken part in a course that has enabled me to use my desire to discover and help science by collecting data. Capturing our Coast (CoCoast) is a charity which aims to train the public so they can become more involved and engaged in marine science.

It’s all about Citizen Science! Which is about members of the public helping to contribute to scientific knowledge by collecting, analysing and interpreting data. ‘CoCoast’ believes that members of the public should feel empowered to contribute in ways that utilize their skills and enthusiasm, instead of just observing scientists.

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At the start of my training day we were educated about the work of the charity, the different project they do, their most recent being SpermWatch.

CoCoast forward their collected data to the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) where the data is checked and can be used by a number of groups to:

  • Provide detailed distribution maps of marine species
  • Allow us to explore how climate change and other human impact is affecting our seas
  • Allow us to investigate if conservation policies are effective
  • Allow us to study how species interact, including marine invasive species
  • Allow us to explore local issues on the coast

They currently have two different types of survey:

Time search

The time search requires you to take 20 minutes to look around and find as many species you can in a specific area (that you set up yourself). That’s it. You just say if species are there or not. Sounds simple right?

Quadrat search

The Quadrat search is a bit more complicated and also requires some equipment (CoCoast will give you equipment on completion of the course). You do 10 quadrats at the high shore and low shore along a line and measure species abundance.

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After learning the theory behind the approaches (there really isn’t much), you’ll go out into the field (well – beach). There you will practise the different searches so you feel comfortable doing it. Just enter your data on the website and you’re done!

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“But I don’t know anything about species.” No problem. Everyone who completes the course is given one of 8 ID packs for you to ‘specialise’ in. These packs can be anything from seaweed to barnacles – it’s up to you. The guides are full of photos to help you on your coastal discovery.

To find out more information about the charity or to sign up for your local training day go to the website here. I promise you won’t regret it.

Thank you to Ben Holt and Catherine Oliver for some of the photos featured!

Marine Life & Conservation

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Paul Rose

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Next in a new series of podcasts shared by our friends Gemma and Ian aka The BiG Scuba Podcast…

Ian and Gemma chat to Paul Rose. A man at the front line of exploration and one of the world’s most experienced divers, field science and polar experts, Paul Rose helps scientists unlock and communicate global mysteries in the most remote and challenging regions of the planet.

He is an experienced television presenter and radio broadcaster. With a proven track record in business engagements, Paul is a sought-after speaker, chairman, host and moderator for industry, government and NGO events.

Former Vice President of the Royal Geographical Society(link is external) and Chair of the Expeditions and Fieldwork Division, Paul is currently Expedition Leader for the National Geographic Pristine Seas Expeditions.

He was the Base Commander of Rothera Research Station, Antarctica, for the British Antarctic Survey for 10 years and was awarded HM The Queen’s Polar Medal. For his work with NASA and the Mars Lander project on Mt Erebus, Antarctica, he received the US Polar Medal.

Paul is a mountain and polar guide leading Greenland Icecap crossing and mountaineering expeditions and polar science support logistics. He worked for four years as a Mountain Safety consultant to the oil industry in the Middle East.

On his 2012 Greenland expedition, Paul led the first expedition to successfully traverse a new 275km icecap route of Knud Rasmussen Land and repeated his first ascent of the north face of Gunnsbjørnfjeld, the highest mountain in the Arctic.

His professional diving work includes science support diving in Antarctica as the British Antarctic Survey’s Institute Diving Officer. He ran the US Navy diver training programme at Great Lakes Naval Training Centre and trained many emergency response dive teams including the Police, Fire Department and Underwater Recovery Teams. He remains a current and active PADI Dive Instructor.

Find out more about Paul Rose at www.paulrose.org


Find more podcast episodes and information at www.thebigscuba.com and on most social platforms @thebigscuba 

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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

How can we do what you do at Blue Planet?

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We at Blue Planet Aquarium usually get asked how people can do what we do; this question usually comes from young adults and children who are dreaming of careers in Marine Biology or Diving, and we make sure to help along the way as much as we can.

If you ask anyone in the industry how they got to where they are, you will always hear a different story, you will hear similarities but there will always be something different. Thus, I would always suggest for people to carve their own path in the industry, and of course this industry is huge with many different areas and avenues for you to go down, which is also what makes the industry so amazing, it allows everyone to have a speciality and to be able to do their part for the single goal of preserving our natural world.

Working as a Diver at Blue Planet is amazing for anyone who wants to make a career in the industry, for several reasons, it is good as it helps you gain diving experience both with animals and teaching students. It gives you chance to practice diving skills in what could be considered difficult diving due to the tasks we have to carry out, and it also allows you to learn about HSE regulations and laws which also helps makes you safe and aware.

Here at Blue Planet, we have people spanning a multitude of different careers, from Marine Biology, Military Diving, Photography and Dive Guiding, it is this that makes the team so amazing as we have a go to person for everything.

The best advice I can give to anyone who wanted to work on the dive team or in an aquarium, would be to have a decent amount of diving experience and be able to demonstrate good diving knowledge, along with being respectful to the environment and animals and being able to work well in a team. It is also helpful to be outgoing and confident as although we work behind the scenes, we are still in the view of guests when we do our feeds or public dives.

For more information about Blue Planet Aquarium please visit their website by clicking here.

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