Searching Our Seas and Shores

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Searching Our Seas and Shores

Photo by Dave Wood

Seasearch

Seasearch is a project for volunteer recreational scuba divers who have an interest in what they're seeing under water, want to learn more and want to help protect the marine environment around the coasts of Britain and Ireland.

From starfish and seahorses to seals and soft corals, Kent’s seas are packed with life, but much of the seabed and sea life around our shores has never been surveyed. Kent Seasearch aims to find out more about the marine wildlife of Kent, as well as to learn more about the various types of seabed found around Kent, and to identify important sites and species around our shores.

We are most grateful for the funding we have received this year for our Seasearch programme from Sea Changers.

Seasearch dives

Each year we run a programme of dives and training courses. Please contact Fiona White to be added to the Kent Seasearch list to receive copies of the annual programme as soon as it becomes available. Watch the video below to see a fascinating glimpse into the underwater world that flourishes in the seas along the Kent coast provided by members of the Kent Seasearch diving team.

A compilation of videos taken in June and July 2017 while diving with Kent SeaSearch.

Why Seasearch matters

The information collected by Seasearch divers helps those responsible for marine activities and marine nature conservation to develop strategies which protect our marine wildlife. It has been crucial in the fight for Marine Conservation Zones, and will continue to be so!

For more information please add your name to the Seasearch mailing list by emailing Fiona White.

Joining in

All you need to get involved with Kent Seasearch is:

  • an interest in marine wildlife,
  • a diving qualification (BSAC Sports Diver, SAA Club Diver, PADI Rescue Diver or other equivalent)
  • a minimum of 25 dives, including 10 in UK seas, and including some in very low visibility
  • a minimum age of 18 years.

Get more from your dives

Learn about our marine wildlife and how to record it. No specialist knowledge is required as training is provided. There are 3 levels of Seasearch training available from the very basics of ID upwards. No specialist knowledge is required as training is provided.

About the dives

There are 3 levels of Seasearch training available:

  • Seasearch Observer - 1 day introductory course that everyone needs to take before coming out on a Seasearch dive
  • Seasearch Surveyor - 2 day more advanced course that includes a dive
  • Special Interest courses – a range of more detailed courses, such as fish ID, nudibranch ID and sponge ID.

Each year we will run at least one Observer level course and generally a specialist course as well. Surveyor courses are run every few years, depending on interest.

Any dive can be a Seasearch dive!

Any club can organise a Seasearch dive as part of the diving programme for the year, or you can simply take a few notes on any dive and complete a form afterwards - no matter where you are, a Seasearch record will always be valuable.

If your club organises a Seasearch dive, having attended a Seasearch course, we will try to organise for a Seasearch tutor to join the dive to provide guidance on filling out the forms, and enable you to use these as qualifying forms.

What makes up a typical Seasearch day?

Seasearch day itinerary

Life on the chalk

Chalk reefs form one of the special seabed habitats around Kent, and we have produced a set of two laminated cards to help divers identify some of the most commonly seen species on our local chalk reefs.

Learn more

Chalk reefs form one of the special seabed habitats around Kent, and we have produced a set of two laminated cards to help divers identify some of the most commonly seen species on our local chalk reefs.

For a free copy of the laminated cards, please send an A5 stamped addressed envelope to Fiona White, Kent Wildlife Trust, Tyland Barn, Sandling, Maidstone, Kent ME14 3BD.

Have you seen?

Please tell us if you see anything unusual on any of your dives, even if you are not involved with Seasearch.

The Beneath the Water guide describes a selection of key species which are locally important for one reason or another. Some are rare in south east England, some have been introduced from other parts of the world and are becoming invasive, while others are native to Britain but spreading because of warming sea temperatures.

Please let us know if you see any species, either by e-mail or post, including the essential information: Species name, date found, location found (exact place name or map reference or GPS position), your name, address and telephone number, and if possible a photograph of the specimen.

Rockpooling with Guardians of the Deep
Project

Guardians of the Deep

Guardians of the Deep is an exciting new project will give everyone the chance to learn more about the astonishing wildlife that lives around Kent’s shores.

Find out more

Shoresearch

Shoresearch is a great way to learn more about what lives in the seas and around the coast of Kent. 

What is Shoresearch?

Kent Wildlife Trust organises a full programme of survey events throughout the year when we visit selected intertidal sites around the coast and record all the species and habitats we find. The aim is to build a baseline of data on the wildlife that occurs on the shores around Kent, to help promote its conservation.

We are most grateful for the funding we have received for our Shoresearch programme from the Heritage Lottery Fund through our Guardians of the Deep project.

Learn more

Wherever possible we run transect and quadrat surveys, but sometimes we simply explore the shore recording everything that we find.  The transect and quadrat surveys enable us to assess more accurately the relative richness of shores, and to provide a better measure of change over time.

We usually spend about 2 - 3 hours on the shore and then gather together (over a warm drink whenever possible) to complete a Shoresearch recording form to make sure we capture a full list of all the species seen, linked to the main habitat types in which they were found, and with an estimate of their abundance.

All the records gathered by Shoresearches are entered into the National Biodiversity Network database, for use by all. Shoresearch records can then be used to help build our knowledge of the marine environment; to identify the county’s most important sites, habitats and species; and to highlight changes we see in our environment. Our Shoresearch survey data has been crucial in the fight for Marine Conservation Zones, and will continue to be so!

We run specific training events to help with identification and surveying through the wider Guardians of the Deep project, and we are very lucky that a number of our Shoresearchers are incredibly knowledgeable about a wide range of plants and animals, and are always happy to help others learn on the shore.

Can I join in?

Everyone is welcome to come to the events - you do not need to have any knowledge of marine life before joining in with Shoresearch, and you can usually simply turn up on the day. The surveys provide a good opportunity for those new to marine life identification and marine surveys to learn in the field from experienced Shoresearchers. Shoresearch events are not usually suitable for young children or dogs, and anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Please email Fiona to add yourself to the Shoresearch e-mail list and receive a copy of the annual Shoresearch programme, as well as reminders and final meeting arrangements for each event

What do I need to bring?

For surveys, please bring along:

  • Warm, waterproof and windproof clothing (waterproof trousers are often useful), including a hat and gloves!
  • Sturdy footwear - wellies or other waterproof footwear with good tread, and preferably good ankle support.
  • Sun protection.
  • Water - shoresearching can be thirsty work!
  • A hand lens is useful, if you have one.
  • Some people find washing-up gloves useful for searching in rock-pools in cold weather.
  • Collins Pocket Guide to the Sea Shore of Britain and Northern Europe is a useful field guide.

What if there is bad weather?

Shoresearch events are not normally cancelled due to rain, but if it is raining heavily or snowing, or very windy or stormy, then we may have to cancel the survey. If this type of weather is forecast, we may send out an e-mail to everyone on the Shoresearch e-mail list in advance, so please check your e-mails.

Do-it-yourself!

In addition to the organised survey events, we are very keen to encourage people out on the shore at any time to fill in a Shoresearch form and send it to us.

Surveying for marine protected areas

As well as joining one of our Shoresearch events, you can help us by keeping an eye out for some key species that we are particularly interested in receiving records for.

There are some plants and animals that we would be particularly interested in hearing about, and the Beneath the Water guide describes this selection of species, which are all important for one reason or another. Some are rare in south east England, some have been introduced from other parts of the world and are becoming invasive, while others are native to Britain but spreading because of warming sea temperatures.

More detailed shore surveys

The Shoresearch form can be used to record comprehensive information, or simply to list species found at a particular site on a particular day.

If you don’t want to do something so formal, please just let us know about anything interesting that you find. Simply send us an e-mail saying what you’ve found, the date and its location – photographs are also always very welcome!

Get in touch

Interested in getting involved with our Seasearch or Shoresearch groups?

Get in touch