Marine Volunteering

Location: Kent Coast, Kent
There are plenty of ways in which you can help us to protect our shorelines and seas around Kent.

Marine Volunteering

Use the drop down menu below to find out about our Shoresearch and Seasearch opportunities. 

Shoresearch

We organise 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. In addition to the now well-established Shoresearch recording of species distribution and diversity around our shores, at some sites we also undertake some more quantitative transect and quadrat surveys alongside the usual recording. This enables us to assess more accurately the relative richness of shores, and to provide a better measure of change over time.

When we’ve finished on the shore, usually in about 2 - 3 hours, we gather together afterwards (for a warming coffee if 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. Along with the data from the Trust’s complementary diver survey, Kent Seasearch, 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.

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 (unless indicated otherwise against the specific event).

The survey events 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.

Shoresearch Circulation List

Please email Fiona to add yourself to the Shoresearch e-mail list and receive a copy of the annual Shoresearch programme each year, as well as reminders and final meeting arrangements for each event. (These are sent using the blind copy facility, so that nobody else can see your e-mail address). The annual programme is sent out by post to anyone on the Shoresearch list who is not on e-mail, but unfortunately it is not feasible to post out reminders for each event or notices of any additional events.

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, or you can always ring if you are in doubt  01622 662012.

Sea Search

From starfish and seahorses to seals and soft corals, Kent’s seas are packed with life, but much of the seabed and sealife 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.

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.

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 diving team.

Seasearch dives and joining in

A programme of training courses and dives is organised in Kent each year, beginning at the start of the main diving season in the spring. 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.

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.

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.