The grant will contribute £2,000 to the Dorset 3Deep Project which will make use of specialised software to map the seabed within the Studland to Portland Special Area of Conservation (SAC). This will be used to monitor changes in the fragile reef species and create an otherwise impossible to see widescale 'aerial view'.
Volunteer Seasearch divers will use the underwater photography and photogrammetry software to create scaled 3D maps of monitoring sites which can be used to detect changes in number, distribution and condition of conspicuous reef species such as ross coral (Pentapora foliacea) and pink seafans (Eunicella verrucosa). At least two sites (one for each species) will be identified that are re-locatable using natural landmark features.
The outputs will provide a unique way to illustrate seabed dynamics and the habitats within the SAC. The resultant 3D models, which will be available to view online, will provide a novel way to engage with stakeholders and the wider public.
Peter Tinsley from Dorset Wildlife Trust said “We’re really excited to win this Innovation grant – this will give us the opportunity to try out a new technique that could really change the way we see the marine environment as well as to better understand the pressures it faces. We’re really looking forward to trying it out.”