Wildlife Trust dive team survey seabeds

Tuesday 25th August 2015

Red fingers by Rebecca HarrisRed fingers by Rebecca Harris

Secrets of the seabed are being revealed as divers undertake exploratory scientific surveys in a bid to better understand the UK’s marine environment and help protect it for the future.

By deploying a dive team we hope to be able to propose new areas for inclusion in the third phase of Marine Conservation Zones, which should be designated in 2016.

Five professional divers and marine ecologists, commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts, are gathering evidence and data from areas where existing knowledge about marine habitats is limited.

This summer, marine scientist Dominic Flint is leading the team of divers in recording any interesting finds in five survey areas around England. They are surveying and photographing the sands and gravels, the rock types and forms, the seaweeds and animals attached to the rocks, crabs and other creatures that crawl over the seabed and the fish that swim above, round and through them.

Joan Edwards, The Wildlife Trusts’ head of Living Seas, said: “By deploying a dive team we hope to be able to propose new areas for inclusion in the third phase of Marine Conservation Zones, which should be designated in 2016.

“Gathering data in the marine environment is notoriously difficult and time-consuming. We hope our activity will help to strengthen the existing evidence base and provide information about areas where little, or nothing, is currently known.

“We have to do this to ensure these places can be included in future discussions over marine protection, and their conservation secured. This will be our last opportunity to secure an ecologically coherent network in England.”

The Wildlife Trusts, at the forefront of practical marine conservation and data submission, is the first non government organisation to commission a dive team to gather such evidence. All the data gathered will be submitted to Natural England.

All the dives are weather dependent. They have started in the south west of England with plans to move along the Channel and in to the North Sea, where it is hoped new and exciting marine life will be found.

You can find out all about what The Wildlife Trusts' dive team is doing here.