To mark National Marine Week, Guardians of the Deep Project Officer, Zoë Stevenson, tells us about our wonderful coastal and marine environment in Kent and the events and activities you can get involved in this summer.
For the past two years the Guardians of the Deep project has been working with people in Kent, connecting them with their marine environment, taking school children to the beach, identifying and reporting wildlife, and hosting beach cleans, just to name a few things! All of this has been made possible through the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Across the summer Guardians of the Deep are offering rock pooling events, seashore safaris and much more. You can check out our full programme of events here. There are events for all ages, and this is a great way of getting connected with the Kent coast and discovering what you can do next to help your marine environment.
Rock pooling is a great way to explore life under the waves, but even if you don’t live near a good reef, or always seem to miss low tide, the strandline is an incredible place to explore. The strandline is the line of debris left on the shore by the sea at high tide. Keep an eye out for exciting natural finds, such as mermaid’s purses (empty egg cases of sharks and rays) or cuttlefish bones (which are actually an internal shell). If you do get to do some rock pooling of your own, we have a useful advice for you here.
I am sure many of you are aware of the impact that single-use plastic can have on our oceans and wildlife and may be feeling a little helpless in the face of these challenges, but beach cleans are not the only way you can help. If you always take a reusable bag to the shops with you and remember your reusable cup when getting coffee, this all helps, but there are lots of other things you can do to help our ocean environment. Why not take a pledge on our online Wish Fish? There are 5 to choose from, all of them very easy to achieve, but they will help make a big difference!
So, we can all help our marine environment and for National Marine Week we have plenty to celebrate in Kent. Here are a couple of creatures to bring to your attention.
Did you know we are home to one of the few seahorse populations in the UK? That’s right, just outside of Dover, in the busiest shipping lane in the world, lives the short-snouted seahorses. These beautiful seahorses are distinguishable from the other species in UK waters by their lack of mane. Seahorses are famous around the world because it is the male fish which gives birth and it’s incredible to know that these unique creatures are living in our local waters.
Unfortunately, you’re not likely to spot a seahorse unless you’re a qualified diver, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t incredible wildlife to spot from the shore! We get both grey and common seals here, and both species have seen their numbers increase over the past decade. South Swale nature reserve near Faversham is a great place to watch them haul out and rest. If you are lucky enough to see a seal on land, please make sure you maintain a 500 m distance from them and keep your dogs on a lead! They are easily disturbed and need their rest!
In Kent, we are very fortunate to have such a long and varied coastline and rich variety of marine wildlife. We hope that National Marine Week provides inspiration to get out explore our shoreline and learn more about our wonderful marine wildlife.
We hope to see you on a beach soon!