Sponge new to science revealed

Sunday 9th October 2011

The sponge discovered during the 2011 Seaweed East survey has been revealed as new to science.

This summer a group of marine conservationists undertook a pioneering attempt to survey the North Sea coast of the UK. The team, with funding from partners including The Wildlife Trusts, took part in surveys from Essex to Northumberland.

The survey recorded 352 wildlife species on the expedition. 126 of those were seaweeds – many species were previously unrecorded in the region and one species which was unknown to science, the purple Hymedesmia sponge, has been added to the list of marine animals in our waters. This colourful creature is an encrusting sponge so adopts the shape of whatever it covers, typically flint cobbles. The find was confirmed by Dr Claire Goodwin of National Museums Northern Ireland, an expert in the field.

Kirsten Smith, Living Seas Manager for the North Sea Wildlife Trusts said:
“This survey has thrown up some important finds, including new exciting species. These results will help us to understand more about our marine environment and help us to identify key areas in need of protection.

“The purple Hymedesmia sponge was found within a draft Marine Conservation Zone off the Norfolk coast. We urge the Government to designate sites such as this during 2012 to ensure our marine wildlife is protected for future generations

“You can help protect marine wildlife within your local area by signing up to The Wildlife Trusts Petition Fish campaign online  and showing support for the creation of nature reserves under the waves, safe havens for marine wildlife.”

More than 20 people took part in the trip and travelled from The Blackwater Estuary in Essex up to Seahouses in Northumberland via Orford Ness (Suffolk), Sheringham and Hunstanton (Norfolk), Gibraltar Point (Lincolnshire), Flamborough Head and Robin Hoods Bay (Yorkshire) and Seaham (Durham).

A full list of the data from the survey is available to download below.

Watch it

The Norfolk and Suffolk legs of the trip were filmed by the BBC for a half hour special. Britain's Great Reef will broadcast on Monday, 10 October at 19:30pm on BBC One East and afterwards on BBC iPlayer nationwide.


Major names involved were Dr Claire Goodwin of National Museums Northern Ireland, Professor Juliet Brodie of the Natural History Museum, Dr Lin Baldock and Dr Frances Dipper. Volunteers from Seasearch also donated their time to support this unique event.


The Wildlife Trusts
Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership
Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service
The Environment Agency
Durham Heritage Coast
Essex Wildlife Trust
Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust
The National Trust
Marine Conservation Society
Norfolk Wildlife Trust
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Northumberland Wildlife Trust
Durham Wildlife Trust
Hull University
Yorkshire Naturalists Union
Dove Marine Laboratories
Purling Transport 






FilenameFile size
Full analysis of data from Seaweed East survey.doc43 KB

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