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.
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.
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
Help protect our marine environment with BSAC’s new Shore Surveyor course
BSAC has partnered with Scottish environmental charity, Seawilding, to offer everyone the chance to help champion the marine environment with the new Shore Surveyor course.
Delivered by eLearning, Shore Surveyor has been designed to engage people, particularly children and young people, in the issues that face our precious marine life. With a focus on the UK’s native oyster and seagrass beds, this eLearning course equips participants with the skills needed to help identify seashore-based habitats and record what they find.
Shore Surveyor is open to everyone, whether they are BSAC members or not.
Working with Seawilding, the UK’s first community-led native oyster and seagrass restoration project, Shore Surveyor participants will also learn about the native oyster and seagrass beds and the issues they currently face.
Both the UK’s native oyster and seagrass habitats have experienced a serious decline over the past 200 years, resulting in an estimated 95% reduction in populations. The new Shore Surveyor course ties directly into BSAC’s major new marine project, Operation Oyster, which aims to protect and restore native oyster habitats around the UK.
By the end of the course, participants can become ‘citizen scientists’ by helping to locate and record seashore areas where current or potential native oysters or seagrass populations are present. This data can then be fed into the National Marine Records Database to help scientists studying our coast as well as support future underwater surveys.
Seawilding CEO, Danny Renton, said he was delighted to partner with BSAC on the Shore Surveyor course.
“Our seas are in peril, and it’s so important to engage families and especially young people, in the wonders of the sea and to engage them in marine conservation. The Shore Surveyor course is the first step to get involved in initiatives like seagrass and native oyster restoration and to nurture a new generation of ocean activists, environmentalists and marine biologists.”
BSAC’s Chief Executive, Mary Tetley, said the new Shore Surveyor course was also part of BSAC’s drive to get more young people actively involved in marine life protection.
“This new course not only explores the threats faced by our precious oceans but also empowers people to get directly involved.
“From a family visit to the beach to a club diving or snorkelling trip, the skills learned on Shore Surveyor can be invaluable to anyone, young or not so young, who wants to make a difference to our under-pressure marine life.”
One of the first participants of the Shore Surveyor course, 16-year-old Lili, from North Wales, has recently put her new found surveying skills into action while on her summer holidays.
“I loved it because it was simple and easy to use and remember,” said Lili. “All ages will enjoy it – young children, teenagers, parents, even grandparents.
“There is a bit of eLearning to do before you start but that is easy to do, and the course really helps you when you go out and see everything for real on the beach!”
Shore Surveyor is open to children aged eight up to adults and costs £20. For more information and to book onto the eLearning course, go to bsac.com/shoresurveyor.
For more information on Operation Oyster and other ways you can get involved, go to bsac.com/operationoyster
PADI and Seiko Prospex unite to help create the world’s largest underwater cleanup for ocean change
PADI® and Seiko Prospex are teaming up to help marine conservation charity Oceanum Liberandum host the world’s largest underwater cleanup event in Sesimbra, Portugal on 24 September 2022.
Taking place during AWARE Week, the event aims to bring together 700 divers to clean up the coastline for a 12-hour period and is anticipated to host the most divers ever on record taking part in one consecutive underwater cleanup effort. Participating divers and dive centres from around the region will come together to collect marine debris–which will ultimately be logged into PADI’s Dive Against Debris database.
“Our database is the world’s largest in terms of capturing seafloor debris data, which has already helped drive two pioneering scientific papers being used to create new waste management policies,” says Emma Daffurn, CSR Specialist for PADI Worldwide. “More than 250 million tons of plastic are estimated to make its way into our ocean by 2025 and the environmental damage caused by plastic debris alone is estimated at $13 billion US a year. This world record attempt further highlights the important role divers play in reporting, removing and advocating to stop marine debris at its source.”
PADI is proud to have Seiko Prospex on board as the sponsor of the marine debris program and a partner for this world record attempt. Their support is critical to advancing the PADI Blueprint for Ocean Action, and protecting the global ocean now and for generations to come.
“Helping to raise awareness and take an active role in environmental conservation has become one of Seiko Prospex’s missions,” says Miguel Rodrigues, Sales & Marketing Director for Seiko Prospex. “We seek, whenever possible, to support events that have ocean conservation at their core, and we are very honored to sponsor the world’s largest underwater cleanup. We are proud to contribute to a more sustainable future where humans are an integral part of nature.”
Those who want to volunteer to take part in the world record attempt can learn more and sign up at oceanumliberandum.pt/en/Largest-Underwater-cleanup-in-the-World/. The 15 euro registration fee will go towards supporting dive centres with boats, facilities and air bottle logistics.
“We’re thrilled to have the chance to work with Seiko in supporting the largest underwater cleanup event so that we can mobilise Ocean TorchbearersTM to take action to protect what they love, capture more essential data for policy changes, and continue the wave of momentum in creating positive ocean change,” says Daffurn.
For more from PADI, visit www.padi.com
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