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Marine Life & Conservation

Marine Conservation Society & Natural History Museum launch first Big Seaweed Search Week

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There are over 650 species of seaweed found around the UK. From dabberlocks to bladder wrack and sugar kelp, each seaweed plays a vital role in supporting the health of our seas, and the planet.

From 26th July – 1st August 2021, the Marine Conservation Society and Natural History Museum will be asking people across the UK to get involved and spot seaweed at the seaside as part of Big Seaweed Search Week.

The Big Seaweed Search equips beachgoers with the knowledge to identify 14 of the most common types of seaweed found at the UK seaside. This vital information is then shared with the Natural History Museum and Marine Conservation Society, who use the data to inform research on how the presence of different seaweed has changed over time due to environmental factors such as climate change.

Kate Whitton_Marine Conservation Society

Professor Juliet Brodie, Merit Researcher at the Natural History Museum and Big Seaweed Search: “By taking part in Big Seaweed Search Week you’ll be helping to contribute to our ongoing scientific research into seaweeds.

“As climate change affects our seas, we’re seeing temperature increases, sea level rise and the impact of ocean acidification. These changes can affect the distribution of different seaweed species around the UK coastline. For example, dabberlocks, a large brown seaweed, is declining in abundance around our coasts, and the number of non-native species in the seaweed flora is increasing year on year. By mapping where different seaweed species are, we can create a baseline from which to determine the impact of environmental changes on our seas.”

Some of the most common and best known seaweeds are brown seaweeds: bladder wrack, with distinctive air-filled bladders and spiral wrack, which often has a spiral twist. Also easily identified is sugar kelp, which has a tough, elongated strap-shaped frond that has a crinkled, dimpled or ruffled surface. Kelps are cold water species, and form kelp forests in many parts of the world’s seas.

Not only are seaweeds a great source of nutrients and energy for animals such as crabs and sea urchins, but they also create critical habitats for other species, acting as nurseries for young fish and places where other sea creatures can take cover from predators.

Alex Mustard – Young lumpsucker

Seaweeds such as kelp are also vital ‘blue carbon’ stores, absorbing carbon from the water and atmosphere just like forests on land. The storage of blue carbon can be in the plants themselves, like seaweed and seagrass; in the seafloor sediment where plants are rooted; or even in the animals which live in the water, including seabirds, fish and larger mammals. Unfortunately, 38% of kelp populations are reported to be declining around the world, limiting ocean ecosystems’ abilities to absorb carbon and fight the climate crisis.

Justine Millard, Head of Volunteer and Community Engagement at the Marine Conservation Society:“We’re hoping lots of people will join Big Seaweed Search Week this year as they head to the coast. We want people across the UK to learn about the wonders of seaweed, spread the word, and help us collect vital information which will support our ongoing research.”

The Natural History Museum and Marine Conservation Society have developed a helpful guide, highlighting key features of the different seaweeds likely to be spotted by the seaside.

To get involved, just complete the simple survey on a mobile, tablet or computer which can be carried out as an individual or in groups.

Register to take part and download the guide and recording form at www.bigseaweedsearch.org

  • Choose your 5 m of coastline to survey
  • Fill in your survey form
  • Take LOTS of clear, close-up photographs for your survey to be accepted
  • Submit your survey through bigseaweedsearch.org
  • Don’t forget to upload your photographs when you submit your survey

You can visit the Big Seaweed Search website for all the information you’ll need to get started.

Header Image: Spiny starfish up on kelp by Paul Naylor

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

Marine Life & Conservation

Save Our Seas Foundation announce Ocean Storytelling Photography Grant

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Stories spark the imagination and nurture ideas. They are, without doubt, our most powerful form of communicating and connecting, both with each other and with the world around us.
The Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) have a strong history of supporting marine conservation and education projects and believe that to truly translate knowledge into effective, meaningful change we must communicate through engaging stories. An inspiring or compelling story can spur positive action in ways that no presentation of facts can.

SOSF are delighted to introduce their new emerging Ocean Storyteller Grants, which will focus on photography in its inaugural year. The photography grant is led by our own director of storytelling and National Geographic photographer Thomas Peschak, in collaboration with Kathy Moran and Jennifer Samuel from National Geographic.

While they are looking specifically for photographers who can tell conservation stories about our oceans, the call is not limited to underwater photography. Applicants should think broadly – story topics can range from the animals themselves to fisheries or the communities whose lives are intertwined with marine life. Four successful grantees will each receive a fully funded assignment to shoot a conservation photo story on location (including day rate and travel), under the direct mentorship of the Ocean Storytelling Grant team.

To learn more about the grant and application process click here.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Dive Project Cornwall and PADI partner to educate the next generation of Ocean Torchbearers

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Dive Project Cornwall’s vision is simple – eliminate plastic pollution and protect the marine environment to save all life in our oceans for future generations to enjoy and cherish. 

“We are delighted to be working with PADI as a key partner to deliver Dive Project Cornwall, a new not-for-profit community interest organsiation,” says Andy Forster, Project Director of Dive Project Cornwall. “For a long time, I have considered it should be the right of every child to walk on a beach and feel the sand between their toes. Dive Project Cornwall aims to give young people that experience and take it one step further: giving them sight of the amazing underwater world. 

Through their own appreciation of the wonders of the marine environment, we inspire thought as to how we will look after our beaches and oceans and preserve them for future generations to enjoy. The success of this lies in educating hundreds of thousands of young people today, and we are delighted to be able to launch a comprehensive introduction to the ocean and marine conservation for young people and adults alike, in the form of Dive Project Cornwall.”

The plight of our world’s oceans is well documented, and through its global network of torchbearers, PADI® is committed to playing a prominent role in taking action to heal the planet, shining a light on what’s possible, and leading communities towards a sustainable future. The collaboration between PADI and Dive Project Cornwall brings this shared ocean conservation mission to life. 

Dive Project Cornwall will educate hundreds of thousands of young people by delivering an education programme directly into schools across the UK, raising the awareness of the importance of the planet’s marine environment and its vital role in our very existence.

At the heart of Dive Project Cornwall is a competition for 400 lucky teenagers to win the experience of a lifetime; a 6-day, life-changing trip to Cornwall where they will learn to scuba dive, enjoy outdoor adventures, take up beach-related activities and attend presentations from leading marine industry experts. The aim is for these teenagers to become PADI Open Water Divers and PADI Torchbearers – ocean influencers who positively engage, inspire and motivate the next generation to save our planet.

PADI is delighted to partner with Dive Project Cornwall to provide the 400 winning students with PADI Open Water Diver eLearning. PADI Dive Centres in Cornwall will work with the students to complete their in-water training and PADI certification. Scuba diving opens up the underwater world for young people and helps them to develop an understanding and appreciation for it, inspiring them to want to explore and protect it.

“Saving the ocean requires all of us to act together, and it’s crucial that we engage the younger generation in this work. Partnering with Dive Project Cornwall enables PADI to deliver such an important project, educating young people in the UK on the far-reaching impact that local action can have,” said Rich Somerset, Territory Director, PADI EMEA.

Dive Project Cornwall are currently looking for sponsors, media partners and collaborating charities to build the project to formal launch across the UK in January 2022. To find out more and get involved visit www.diveprojectcornwall.co.uk or email Andy Forster andy@diveprojectcornwall.co.uk

“We look forward to working with PADI and all of our sponsors (those already on board and those to come) to positively engage, inspire and motivate the next generation to save our planet,” says Forster.

For more info visit www.diveprojectcornwall.co.uk or www.padi.com

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  • Free Nitrox

Subject to availability.
Alternative departure airports available at supplement.

Email info@diversetravel.co.uk to find out more!

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