In a record year for marine sightings across Britain, volunteer divers from the
south-west topped the count for marine wildlife encounters. According to Seasearch, Britain and Ireland’s largest volunteer diver programme co-ordinated by the Marine Conservation Society, 2010 was the fifth record year in a row for information contributed by volunteer sports divers who want to protect the marine environment. Dorset’s Seasearch programme is co-ordinated by Dorset Wildlife Trust, which is also reporting a record year, with over 70 divers now recording wildlife either on organised survey days or when diving in their leisure time. The aim is to map out the various types of seabed found in the near-shore zone around the coastline, contributing to decision-making about where protection is most needed.
Kathryn Dawson, Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Marine Survey & Data Officer, said:
“We have been able to target our dives to likely hotspots for wildlife, thanks to the new DORIS (Dorset Integrated Sea Survey) seabed map. As a result, we have had some fantastic discoveries, including many which now lie within the proposed boundaries of the Portland to Studland Reefs draft Special Area of Conservation.”
Among the recent discoveries by Dorset’s Seasearch divers are an important
seagrass habitat in Worbarrow Bay, mats of Ampelisca (small, tube-forming crustaceans that can create dense colonies) off Swanage and a rich sponge and hydroid community on what the DORIS map revealed to be a possible earlier coastline south-east of Dancing Ledge.
Kathryn added: “We know that data from volunteer divers was instrumental in the selection of part of Dorset’s seabed for European protection. These records are vital in increasing knowledge of what is living in our seas and there is still so much to learn. There is some amazing wildlife down there, so come and dive the Dorset coast this summer and let your dives help marine wildlife.”
Dorset Wildlife Trust offers training days for Seasearch volunteer divers from April 2011. For more information, contact Kathryn Dawson on 01305 264620.
For more information please contact Kathryn Dawson at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
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Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
Seasearch is a project for volunteer sports divers who have an interest in what they're seeing under water, want to learn more and want to help protect the marine environment around the coasts of Britain and Ireland. Seasearch is co-ordinated by the Marine Conservation Society on behalf of the Seasearch Steering Group which comprises the Marine Conservation Society, Wildlife Trusts, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Natural England, Countryside Council for Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage, Environment and Heritage Service Northern Ireland, Environment Agency, Marine Biological Association, Nautical Archaeological Society, British Sub Aqua Club, Sub Aqua Association, Professional Association of Diving Instructors, Scottish Sub Aqua Club, Irish Underwater Council and independent marine life experts
Marine Conservation Society
Is the UK charity dedicated to the protection of our seas, shores and wildlife. MCS campaigns for clean seas and beaches, sustainable fisheries, protection of marine life and their habitats, and the sensitive use of our marine resources for future generations. MCS provides information and guidance on many aspects of marine conservation and produces the annual Good Beach Guide (www.goodbeachguide.co.uk), the Good Fish Guide and www.fishonline.org on sustainable seafood, as well as promoting public participation in volunteer projects and surveys such as Beachwatch, Adopt-a-Beach and Basking Shark Watch.www.mcsuk.org
DORIS Seabed map
The Dorset Integrated Seabed Study (DORIS) project has been undertaken by Dorset Wildlife Trust, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Channel Coastal Observatory, with a major biodiversity grant of £300,000 from Viridor Credits Environmental Company, through the Landfill Communities Fund. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency will use the map to update navigation charts, the Channel Coastal Observatory will provide information to coastal engineers and Dorset Wildlife Trust is using it to identify important and vulnerable seabed habitats. It will be used by the Dorset Coast Forum’s C-SCOPE project to create a marine plan for Dorset and is map is also available to the public, opening up the underwater world as never before. You can see the DORIS map in Google Earth at http://tinyurl.com/dorismap, with linked photos appearing as you zoom in. (Google Earth can be downloaded on to your computer, free of charge).