Living Seas is a vision for the future of the UK’s seas where marine wildlife thrives, from the depths of the ocean to the coastal shallows. This year there has been a great emphasis on raising the profile of Our Living Seas project, delivering over 30 public engagement events and gaining extensive media coverage.
A key project in 2016 was ‘The Waste Beneath the Waves’, an art exhibition created from beach litter gathered on the shores of Cumbria. This inspiring and thought-provoking art exhibition has been created from beach litter gathered on the shores of Cumbria. The marine waste, once cleaned and sorted, has been transformed into wonderful sculptures of sea creatures by Cumbrian artist Ellie Chaney, working with local community groups and Cumbria Wildlife Trust. Other events included whale and dolphin watches, with participants managing to spot harbour porpoises, and seal workshops with enthusiastic attendees braving all weathers. Twelve illustrated talks were delivered to groups of volunteers, students and wildlife enthusiasts, and rocky shore educational sessions were run with two local colleges and universities.
A total of 25 surveys were completed this year. These included monitoring the grey seal population at South Walney Nature Reserves. For the second year in a row, we recorded seal pups, which could mark the establishment of a breeding colony on the reserve. This gave us a great opportunity to engage with the public about these charismatic animals, with numerous articles, radio interviews and a section in BBC One’s Countryfile Winter Diaries. Other work included bird disturbance surveys, wading bird counts and mapping areas of honeycomb worm reef on the west coast of Cumbria, which feeds in to the monitoring and management of the region’s Marine Protected Areas.
We have continued to promote our mud campaign #MarineMudness, generating support for muddy habitats in the Irish Sea and signing people up to become friends of Muddy Marine Conservation Zones ahead of the third round of Marine Conservation Zone designations. This campaign will continue in 2017 with the launch of a children’s marine themed education leaflet ‘A Tale Trail’ which guides the reader through a story and around a map of the Irish Sea exploring the secrets of the undersea landscape and species found there as they go.
In the coming months, a national Wildlife Trust campaign will also be launched locally in the North West, asking children to join together to make a giant paper ‘blue belt’ constructed from paper friendship bracelets, coloured in, cut out and, eventually, connected together. The resulting artwork will be delivered to the Prime Minister to show public support for the designation of Marine Conservation Zones as part of the Conservative Party’s manifesto to create a blue belt of protection throughout UK seas.
We will be running a number of events over the spring and summer, including our annual Beached Art festival at St Bees and celebrating our fantastic marine life during National Marine Week at the end of July. We will also be continuing our citizen science rocky shore survey programme ‘The Wildlife Trusts’ Shoresearch’.
Thank you again for your amazing support!
Marine litter razorbill made by Furness College Students