|There is a world of wildlife waiting to be discovered on Dorset’s beaches, according to Dorset Wildlife Trust. As well as attracting millions of human visitors every year, our beaches are also home to an astonishing variety of wildlife, from sea creatures to plants, bugs, bats and even hedgehogs, but only now is this rich habitat being recognised for its importance. Dorset Wildlife Trust is inviting people to help to monitor the life of the strandline as part of its Welly Zone project to study this previously neglected wildlife hotspot.
Dorset Wildlife Trust surveys have found that seaweed and debris washed up by the tide provide food for a multitude of insects and other bugs, which in turn provide a meal for larger animals. Mammals found during the surveys include the tiny pygmy shrew, brown hares, foxes, bats and hedgehogs.
Lifelines for birds and mammals
Julie Hatcher, Marine Awareness Officer at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “This mini ecosystem provides food, shelter and warmth even in the depths of winter as storm waves wash up piles of seaweed onto the beach, providing a life-line for birds and mammals when they most need it.
Spiders, centipedes and predatory beetles, including some very rare species, are found here, and some live nowhere else. It is very exciting to be part of the beginnings of the discovery of a largely unknown habitat, yet it is right here under our noses!”
Julie added: “We are now urging beach owners to consider hand-cleaning beaches, as machines remove the top 15cm of sand, the strandline and all the wildlife. We hope that the tide will turn for beach wildlife now and that people will want to learn about it and protect it.”
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Julie Hatcher at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01929 481044.
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About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Welly Zone Project The 3-year Welly Zone project, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’s Sustainable Development Fund, aims to involve local people in finding out about the wildlife that relies on intertidal and shallow water habitats along our coast, which are currently not set to be protected by proposed conservation plans.
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.
Ringed plovers are among the many birds and animals that feed on Dorset’s rich beach life.
Photo by Monique Vanstone