Wanted: Budding scientists to capture coast

Largest ever coastal survey: Marine biologists Abbi Scott, Dr Katrin Bonn and Dr Gordon Watson CREDIT: Christopher Ison

Largest ever coastal survey: Marine biologists Dr Gordon Watson, Dr Katrin Bohn and Abbi Scott CREDIT: Christopher Ison

People from Kent to Dorset with a passion for the UK’s coastline are being invited to help make history by being part of the largest coastal marine citizen science project ever undertaken.

The £1.7m Capturing Our Coast project, funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund, is designed to further our understanding of the abundance and distribution of marine life around the UK.

It officially launched this week and, in Portsmouth, the aim is to recruit and train more than 400 volunteers to join the 3,000 recruited nationally to help build an accurate picture of the marine life on the south coast.

Portsmouth is one of seven places in the UK where volunteers can take part and they will be trained and supported by marine biologists at the University of Portsmouth.

Capturing our Coast will also be available to those who can’t get out to the shore, with the establishment of web-based citizen science options.

Dr Gordon Watson, leader of the University of Portsmouth hub, said: “This project will help turn our volunteers into ‘specialists’, working on their favourite south coast species and habitats.”

Collecting data around key indicator species – such as topshells – can provide information about how coastal systems are responding to factors such as increased sea temperatures. The research will help scientists understand how the marine environment is responding to global climate change and help inform future policy and conservation strategies.

The project is a national collaboration led by Newcastle University and involving the universities of Portsmouth, Hull, Bangor, the Scottish Association for Marine Science, the Marine Biological Association of the UK and the Marine Conservation Society.

It also involves organisations including Earthwatch Institute, the Natural History Museum, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Cefas and the Coastal Partnerships Network.

Dr Heather Sugden, at Newcastle University, said: “This is the first project of its kind and an exciting opportunity for anyone with a fascination for marine life and a desire to make a real impact on our understanding – and ultimately the protection –  of our coastal environment.

“The data we collect will fill key knowledge gaps such as geographic species distributions, movement of warm water species, and occurrences of invasive non-native species.”

To get involved or for more information, visit: www.capturingourcoast.co.uk

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