£1.7m National Lottery grant to protect UK’s threatened marine life

Scarborough from Olivers Mount

Residents in Scarborough and along the East Coast will be able to take part in a UK wide environmental project thanks to scientists at the University of Hull. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded £1.7million to “Capturing our Coast”, a project designed to explore how the marine environment is responding to global climate change and Dr Sue Hull at the University of Hull’s Scarborough Campus is one of the partners in the project.

The project will train over 3,000 volunteers – making it the largest experimental marine citizen science project ever undertaken in the UK. The volunteers will collect data around key species and it is hoped the new research will help inform future policy and conservation strategies.

The project is led by Newcastle University’s Dove Marine Laboratory and involves the universities of Hull, Portsmouth, Bangor and the Scottish Association for Marine Science.

Dr Hull explains: “This a really exciting project allowing anyone who is interested in marine life to become a volunteer and work alongside marine scientists from the University of Hull to provide a better understanding of the ecology of our coastal wildlife.

“The scientific data that will be generated across all the partner institutions will allow us to examine marine processes on a national scale. There will be a range of different research projects that people can come and get involved with, they can do as little or as much as they feel they want to and we will provide full training and support throughout the three years. It’s a real ‘hands-on’ experience working on the beautiful Yorkshire coast exploring the diversity on our shores and learning about the factors that influence the species we find there. It also allows the volunteers the opportunity to engage with the University and learn more about its activities and to become a valued part of the scientific community’.

“Collecting this information about our coastlines is vital if we are to protect them for the future but we can’t do it without the help of the public,” explains Dr Jane Delany of Newcastle University.

“What this project aims to do is develop a network of citizen scientists who can help us build an accurate picture of marine life all around the UK – a baseline against which we can better understand the impact of climate change and other environmental and human factors.

“It gives us the opportunity to carry out the same experiment at the same time across different latitudes and environmental conditions to gain an accurate picture of the ecological processes in the marine environment. This data will then feed into a national database and inform future policy, conservation and science.”

Through the ‘Capturing our Coast’ project there will also be the opportunity for wider engagement with communities across the UK through workshops, social media and other events.

The project will be open for volunteers wanting to take part from September 2015. For more information and to register your interest please email bigseasurvey@ncl.ac.uk.
This article was originally published on the University of Hull’s website.

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