Bringing our seas to life

Cuttlefish ©Alexander Mustard/2020VISION

Our seas are amazing, but much of the wildlife is hidden beneath the waves. So how do you bring these hidden wonders to life?

Around half of British wildlife is found in our seas - from microscopic plankton to majestic whales - but our undersea wildlife is a whole lot harder to spot than hedgehogs and hares. Although none of us in the UK live more than 70 miles from the coast, it’s pretty difficult for most of us to experience a seahorse hiding in a shimmering seagrass meadow or a vast open seabed dotted with the blue-green glow of bioluminescent sea pens. Bringing the magic of our seas to life is one of the biggest challenges we face in marine conservation – and one that The Wildlife Trusts have been working tirelessly to address over the past 30 years.

Most of us are aware that our seas are under threat. We know about plastic pollution, the risk of climate change and the impacts of overfishing. Yet still very few of us are aware that right now we have bluefin tuna hunting off the coast of Cornwall, the first grey seal pups of the season are entering the world and the world’s second largest fish, the basking shark, is feasting on plankton off the west coast of Scotland. Year round our seas are home to solar-powered sea slugs, baked bean sea squirts and colour-changing cuttlefish. But for most of us, our ability to see this is limited to our TV screens.

So, how do you bring the hidden wonders of our seas to life? Well, we have to get creative! From Alderney to Ullapool, Ulster to East Anglia, our amazing marine staff and dedicated volunteers run a huge variety of events and activities, all with the aim of better connecting the British public with the awesome life in our seas. We run events year round, but National Marine Week is undoubtedly the highlight.

National Marine Week is The Wildlife Trusts' annual celebration of all things marine and this year was one of the best yet, with nearly 150 events attracting over 9000 people! 

Some of the highlights were:

  • Snŵdling (that's snorkelling and doodling!) in North Wales
  • Massive Sand Drawings on the coasts of Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk
  • Snorkel Safaris in Northern Ireland and Devon.
  • A Bucket and Spade loan scheme in West Wales using items collected during beach cleans!
  • An awesome Litter Critter exhibition made from beach litter in Lancashire

But why is it important to excite people about the life in UK seas? Well, I’ll borrow some words from Sir David Attenborough on this point: “No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.” Connecting people with the life beneath UK seas is the cornerstone of our marine conservation work. Indeed, we believe that it is the key to inspiring people to take action that protects and conserves our marine environment for the future. You can learn more about the Marine Strategy that underpins our work, The Way Back to Living Seas, here.

We all have a part to play in protecting our seas, no matter where in the UK we live. For ideas on how you can take action to protect our seas and their amazing wildlife, visit www.wildlifetrusts.org/actions