Worthing residents’ called to join the Big Seaweed Search to help unlock secrets of the sea

Worthing Beach seaweed search

Researchers call for residents to join the Big Seaweed Search

Have you ever wondered about the wildlife and ecosystems that lie beyond the beaches in Worthing?

Researchers from the Marine Conservation Society and the Natural History Museum are calling on foreshore-loving residents to join the Big Seaweed Search.

By taking part, local people can help spot 14 ‘indicator species’ of seaweed along Worthing’s coastline. The presence, absence or abundance of these indicator species will help assess the impact of climate change on the health of our marine ecosystems.

Data from the seaweed search will help scientists understand more about the quality of the water and wildlife living within it.

Worthing’s foreshore is already showing signs of ecological recovery following the 2020 fishing trawler ban, which now protects 300km2 of seabed off Sussex from the destructive practice.

Cllr Vicki Wells, Worthing’s Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “We’re seeing an encouraging recovery of kelp, subsequent improved fish stocks and variety of species – a bottom-up return of the ecosystem, capturing carbon, cleaning the water and helping to protect the foreshore.”

Reports and research from local fishermen on Worthing foreshore

Local free divers and anglers continue to report diverse sightings which are further testament to the success of the trawler ban. Mussel beds are colonising the base of the wind farm, while spotted garfish, electric rays and even John Dory have been sighted off our shores. Conger eels, including three at over 43lbs each, have also been caught – and returned safe and sound into the sea.

Following a recent collaboration with Worthing fisherman, the local shoreline can look forward to a new era of sustainable fishing, ecological custodianship and the preservation of 200 years of local fishing heritage.

Cllr Wells added: “Worthing’s fantastic local fishermen are helping the University of Portsmouth to carry out research on cuttlefish, and they are reporting increases in all types of catch including bass, whiting, bream, sole, plaice and huss.

“By getting involved with the Big Seaweed Search, you can play your part in discovering how Worthing’s diverse ecosystems are recovering and adapting to the changing climate.”

Pop into the Coastal Office for more information (opposite Marks & Spencer, on the prom) to help with the research. You don’t need to be an expert – you just need a keen eye and an hour to spend on Worthing foreshore trying to spot these special species.

Cllr Wells continued: “Last year, with the help of our community, we were able to make an application for Worthing’s second officially designated area of bathing water – which will give us the power to monitor water quality and keep our sea cleaner.

“Now we’ve got another really exciting opportunity for local people to get involved, by helping us learn more about the sea life that exists just off our coast. The Big Seaweed Search will help researchers understand just how healthy these ecosystems are, and inform what we can do in Worthing to support them.”

The more help there is, the more we can understand about the health and quality of our coastal waters. To find out more about the Big Seaweed Search, visit: tinyurl.com


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