Brighton Dolphin Project

Many of us walk along Brighton seafront gazing out at the beautiful ocean, but what actually lives beneath the waves? 

From the surface, the answer may appear to be ‘not much’ but as this video shows, looks can be deceiving…

This  pod of bottlenose dolphins was seen just a mile off Shoreham Port by Brighton Fish Sales on 26/05/2020 (courtesy of Brighton Dolphin Project), and it’s not only bottlenose dolphins that visit Sussex seas…

We are lucky enough to have six species of marine mammal living in Sussex!  They include: bottlenose, white-beaked and common dolphins, harbour porpoises, grey seals and harbour seals.

That’s where Brighton Dolphin Project come in.  The Sussex coastline is the most poorly researched area for marine mammals. Their mission is to tell the world about the dolphins of Sussex, research these wonderful cetaceans and find out just how many are Brighton residents.

White-Beaked dolphin illustration, copyright Brighton Dolphin Project

To find out where the dolphins are, and how they are behaving, Brighton Dolphin Project needs people to get involved and send in their sightings as part of a huge citizen science project.

“we ask people to report any sightings and tell us about their experience. To date we have over 200 sightings of marine mammals recorded and these are only the sightings that have been sent into us!”

The future for Brighton Dolphin Project

The future is looking bright for Brighton Dolphin Project. The project is growing larger and they are in the process of moving into exciting new premises at Shoreham Port. They are hoping to gather more data too – the more data they have, the more likely they are to be able to protect dolphins in Sussex.

Take action!

You can help Brighton Dolphin Project by…

  • Keeping your eyes peeled for any marine mammals in Sussex. Use their Research Leaflet  to help you collect data and aid your spotting
  • Following them on Instagram @brightondolphinproject
  • Making sure you take your litter with you when you visit beaches so our marine life doesn’t get tangled up
  • Entering their drawing competition (closing 28/08/2020)

Marine Conservation Zones

What are Marine Conservation Zones?

Marine Conservation Zones are a type of Marine Protected Area of the British coasts. As part of a ‘blue belt‘, there aim is to protect our most vulnerable marine life and habitats from destructive human activity including trawling, pollution and leisure boating.

The zones act as nurseries for immature fish and other sea life. These rich areas of protected sea life should seed the surrounding areas with new stock increasing the fishing yield for fishermen in the open sea.

What a Marine Conservation Zone should look like from Sussex Wildlife Trust on Vimeo.

Find out more at http://www.sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/livingseas
Film produced by The Wildlife Trusts

What progress has been made?

We now have 91 marine conservation zones in and around 250 marine protected areas in the UK. The conservation zones aim to protect important marine environments from destructive human activity including trawling, pollution and leisure boating.

Over 24% of UK waters (12 nautical miles from the coast) were in protected areas in 2018.  Globally, international bodies have called for 30% of all seas and oceans to be protected.

You can view the MCZs using the JNCC universal mapper

Sussex Marine Conservation Zones 

In Sussex, we have 9 Marine Conservation Zones  which cover around 22% of our local seas. Among these is Beachy Head West which was one of the first areas to be designated in the UK. It runs from Brighton Marina to Eastbourne and is a wonderful spot for Rockpooling (see our Rockpooling guide).

The chalky seabed is an important environment for a number of species, including, Native oysters (Ostrea edulis), Short-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus hippocampus) and  Blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) beds.

What needs to be done?

The increase in MCZs being designated is a huge step towards protecting these marine habitats, however, there needs to be investment in the proper management of these sites. According to the Blue Foundation only 5% of MPA are protected from destructive activities like trawling they say:

At the moment trawls and dredges are banned in only 5% of the area of UK marine protected areas. Incredibly, there is more trawling inside protected areas than outside and fewer fish, according to a recent study. Most of what we have today are therefore paper parks.

If we dramatically increase levels of protection for these places, we would have a world class network that would deliver the clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas the government aspires to. The science also says, that fisheries are better off if fishing is kept outside protected areas, because protected stocks replenish them.

Take Action!

 

Collect Data!

Marine Conservation Zones were established through a huge army of volunteers collecting data from our shores and in the seas.

If you can’t commit much time, anyone can gather data; a trip to the beach, snorkel, dive. Just note what you find, where, when and submit the data to the Sussex Biodiversity Centre or iRecord

Join a wildlife charity! 

Wildlife charities like Sussex Wildlife Trust and the Marine Conservation Society do a tremendous amount of work to help protect our seas but they need your help to keep running.

Written by Grace Brindle, Collections Assistant, Booth Museum of Natural History

 

Plastic Fantastic?

“Plastic is not an intrinsically bad material, it is an invention that has changed the world. The plastic became bad due to the way that industries and governments use it and the way society has converted it into a disposable and single-use convenience…’

These are the opening words of the WWF Report 2019 (World Wildlife Fund) on plastic waste pollution on our planet.

Where does plastic waste come from? 

Many of us have heard about the problem of plastic in our oceans, but where does it come from?

Globally, over 80% of the yearly input comes from land-based sources, such as plastic packaging and bottles. Over 90% of the plastic waste that gets into the ocean is carried there by ten rivers in Asia and Africa. These rivers flow through areas of high population where people don’t have access to good waste disposal.

In contrast, in the UK, plastic which goes in our bins is either recycled, burned for energy or buried in a landfill.  This shouldn’t end up in the ocean if managed properly. Instead, the larger pieces of plastic that enter the sea come from plastic pellets produced by industry, littering and plastic from fishing nets and ropes.

Another important source are microplastics

Microplastics

Microplastics  are less than half a centimetre in size. They come from the wear and tear on car types, the breakdown of plastic litter, cosmetic microbeads  and from washing clothes containing man-made fibres. Information on the effects of microplastics is limited. However, we know they don’t biodegrade and so build up in the marine environment, where they can be ingested by animals. These microplastics can contain plastics that are toxic to animals.

Around the world

Worldwide, the United Nations says that the equivalent of a garbage truck’s worth of plastic reaches the ocean every minute causing a range of problems for wildlife here are just some of the effects:

Plastic waste kills up to 1 million sea-birds, 100,000 other marine animals and countless fish each year.

Birds and animals eat pieces of plastic which may choke them. Or they may get caught up in rubbish and be injured or die. Even if they don’t die, the animals may be weaker and less successful at reproducing.

Some plastics contain chemicals that last for a very long-time and are toxic to wildlife.

Take Action! 

Many people and organisations across the globe are coming up with innovative solutions and campaigns trying to tackle the plastic problem. From scientists to artists and litter heroes, in the coming months,  we will be highlighting just some of these projects.

Around the world, governments are committed to taking action and the World Economic Forum has proposed 8 Steps to solve the oceans plastic problem. In the UK, the Environment Bill allows for deposit schemes, charges for single-use plastics and charges for carrier bags.

Plastic science in Sussex

Marine Bioplastics – Sussex student wins award for developing a biodegradable plastic from fish waste

Discover the Our Plastic Oceans by Mandy Barker temporary exhibition or find out how you can take action in the fight against plastic at Brighton & Hove’s recycling page Brighton & Hove  or discover more ways you can get involved via the links below.

Local Activists!

Local Activists!

What can we learn from local inspiring activists? How can we all get involved? Here we shine a spotlight on ...
Read More
Our Plastic Ocean, by Mandy Barker

Our Plastic Ocean, by Mandy Barker

8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the world’s oceans every year. If these trends continue, our oceans will ...
Read More

 

 

 

 

Help our Kelp!

Sussex Wildlife Trust talk to us about the latest updates of their HelpOurKelp campaign, why kelp is important and  what you can do to get involved.

Kelp is the name given to a group of brown seaweeds, usually large in size, that are capable of forming dense aggregations known as ‘kelp forests’.

Historically, kelp was abundant along the West Sussex coastline. But this important habitat has diminished over time, leaving just a few small patches and individual plants, mostly in shallow water and along the shoreline. Through the Help Our Kelp partnership, we want to bring it back!

Why we should Help Our Kelp!

How far have we come?

The first step towards restoration is to put fisheries management in place. Whilst there are a number of factors that may be affecting the kelp, one manageable factor is fishing effort.

The Sussex IFCA, who manage fishing within six nautical miles from the Sussex shore, agreed a new byelaw on 23 January 2020 which will see trawling excluded from a vast 304 km2 of Sussex coastline year-round. The decision was made following an extensive consultation period, which saw overwhelming support demonstrated by almost 2,500 people in response to the Help Our Kelp campaign.

The implementation of this byelaw will alleviate the pressure from this type of fishing on the habitat used by the kelp, giving it some breathing space to regenerate.

Sussex Wildlife Trust is delighted to be working alongside Big Wave Productions, BLUE Marine Foundation, Marine Conservation Society and University of Portsmouth as the Help Our Kelp Partnership. Together we have contacted Secretary of State George Eustice directly, urging him to sign the byelaw swiftly, and encouraged all Sussex MPs to do the same. We have done this understanding the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis and the important roles that DEFRA and our local MPs are playing.

As lockdown restrictions start to ease, we wish to put this critical byelaw back on the political agenda. We see it as a win-win scenario for Sussex, both for its people and its wildlife. Getting the byelaw signed is a positive and unprecedented action for a more sustainable Sussex.

Click hereto learn more and to watch the stunning campaign film created by Big Wave Productions, narrated by David Attenborough himself.

Take Action!

Click here to help Sussex kelp forests.  Writing to your local MP is one of the most effective actions you can take.

Written by Nikki Hills and Ella Garrud, Sussex Wildlife Trust

Sussex wildlife trust logo, courtesy of Sussex Wildlife Trust.jpg