Big Seaweed Search launches at Bioblitz

21 August 2009

Did you know there are an amazing 650 species of seaweed around the UK's coast? Or that they are used to make medicines and products like shampoo and toothpaste?

Well, head down to the Wembury coast in Devon today and take part in the launch of the Big Seaweed Search, and help identify other sea life in a 24-hour marine Bioblitz.

Experts from the Natural History Museum, Marine Biological Association, Devon Wildlife Trust, and other local nature groups will be there to guide you in exploring the area's important marine biodiversity.

Wembury Bioblitz

The 24-hour Bioblitz starts at midday today until midday on Saturday. Wembury coastline is a nationally important nature conservation area and the survey covers habitats such as sub tidal waters, the rocky shore, beach, coastal cliffs, wet and dry meadows, scrub and a freshwater stream.

Big Seaweed Search

The Big Seaweed Search, funded by OPAL, with support from the Big Lottery Fund, is a new national survey launching at the Wembury Bioblitz. It encourages anyone, whatever their age or seaweed knowledge, to take part in surveying the seaweeds, not just in Wembury, but all around the UK's coast.

The survey is ongoing and people can send in their results any time of the year. There are easy-to-use identification guides on the website and recording sheets to print off and take with you.

Many animals depend on these simple plant-like organisms for food and shelter. At the bottom of the marine food chain, seaweeds photosynthesise the sun's energy into food and remove carbon dioxide from the air. 

The data from the Big Seaweed Search will help scientists from the British Phycological Society and Natural History Museum learn more about the distribution of these often overlooked, but important organisms.

Climate change

Scientists want to find out if populations of seaweeds around Britain's shores are changing. Climate change has an effect on water conditions and sea levels, which may affect seaweeds as well as many other organisms.

Invasive species

The spread of non-native species may also be having an impact on some species. For example, the invasive wireweed was first recorded in the UK in 1973 on the Isle of Wight. It is now found on shores throughout southern England and is spreading north. 

The Big Seaweed Search will help detect how far it has got and whether it is competing with native species.

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