Mapping the seabed with Dorset Seasearch
Volunteer divers have been contributing to our knowledge of Dorset's seabed habitats and species for over 20 years and the information is used in a variety of ways - to help map seabed habitats, to identify potential protected areas, to influence fishery management decisions and to inform the licensing of developments in the marine environment. The acquisition of detailed remote-sensing data (see DORIS) marked the start of a new chapter in Dorset Seasearch. enabling divers to accurately target a huge number of newly revealed seabed features, making the survey much more efficient as well as opening up new dive-sites in Dorset, many of which are sure to become classic dives.
How to become a seasearcher
There are three types of courses available:
Seasearch Observer - for divers new to marine recording in British and Irish waters
Seasearch Surveyor - for experienced recorders who want to increase the value of the results
Special Interest Courses - a range of ID and techniques courses for people who want to expand their knowledge
The cost of the courses varies depending on venue, costs incurred and if there is any local subsidy or diving involved. As a rough guide one-day courses cost £40-£50 and weekend courses, including diving, £80-£90.
For more detailed information, visit the national Seasearch training page here.
2020 Dorset Seasearch highlights
- 87 dives were recorded in the Dorset region and six for Hampshire and Isle of Wight and 35 taxa of conservation interest were recorded by Dorset Seasearch
- The diving year got off to a slow start with the lockdown and travel restrictions in place until shore diving became practicable in June and forms were submitted for intertidal walks and snorkel surveys which all provided useful data on sublittoral fringe habitats.
- Visits to the extraordinary habitats on Long Ledge in Lyme Bay, squeezing in four dives through the season
- 2020 saw many idle cruise ships anchored in Weymouth and Poole Bay and concern was raised as to their impact. Natural England funded Dorset Wildlife Trust to commission a multibeam sonar survey of selected areas and their report provided dramatic images of anchoring impacts on the seabed.