Seasearch to better understand the marine environment

Seasearch

As a diver I enjoy the marine environment a lot and while some dives may be focused on practicing skills it seemed a waste to just go diving and not record anything about what I had seen. It is always a steep learning curve with the marine environment because there are so many factors to take into account, from pollution causing changes in the smallest of species to the destruction one ship can cause if it slips anchor as well as the many different species and geological formations. Seasearch is a way for all divers to help keep an eye on the marine life and habitat which we are privileged to explore each time we get in the water and to learn more about what they see.

Seasearch History and Objectives

During the 1980’s it was recognised that recreational divers were a great resource for data collection on the marine environment by Dr. Bob Earll and Dr. Roger Mitchell and since then Seasearch has been developed so that it isn’t just specific areas monitored but with the training through one of the many centres around the UK run by the Marine Conservation Society (and others) to create a year by year map that shows the overall condition of species, species migration and if we are having any effect on their habitat and numbers.

The objectives of Seasearch are simple which is part of the reason as an Environmental Scientist I decided to become involved in the project. They are:

  • To encourage the participation of volunteer recreational divers in marine conservation through gathering data, particularly for areas where little data exists or where there is a conservation need,
  • To provide training in recording skills to enable volunteer recreational divers to participate in Seasearch,
  • To make quality assured Seasearch data available to partner organisations and the general public,
  • To raise public awareness of the diversity of marine life and habitats in Britain and Ireland through the dissemination of information gathered and the identification of issues arising from it.

(From Seasearch aims and objectives)

Seasearch Training

There are two levels to the Seasearch program, Observer and Surveyor, the first level of Observer is more important than it sounds with the experience and skill-set it gives to understand the marine environment when diving and has to be taken first to give you the chance to learn more about the recording techniques, the second level of Surveyor is a little more in-depth and at the moment for me sounds more like another degree.

As I am in Cornwall I will be taking part in the next course which is to be held on April 6th and 7th and the cost is the same as a good quality mask, £40 covers 2 days, one in the classroom to learn about the observer forms and some basic species identification and geological environment and the second day is a dive to put it all in practice. One of the conditions is that you have insurance but it is not as bad as it sounds, as I am only diving in the UK at present I will be purchasing the Divemaster public liability cover which is only £20, if I was diving abroad then I would go for DAN insurance to insure myself against any accidents as well as to cover me for Seasearch.

Seasearch Contacts

Seasearch has a national contact that can put you in touch with your area which is based in Herefordshire, the national co-ordinator is Chris Wood 0776142096 or you can email him at chris@seasearch.org.uk

Living in Cornwall my first port of call was a young lady called Cat Wilding and she can be contacted on 01872 273939 at the Cornwall Wildlife Trust or by email at catherine.wilding@cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk

 

The data I collect will be added to the Seasearch map that is open to all to view and use and I will also be using it to update the dive site information here on divingjunkie.com as we explore new places and record them for your information.

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