Friday, 7 October 2016

Dead whale remains Normans Bay

The remains of a large rorqual washed ashore around at Normans Bay (near Eastbourne). The tail stock section is about 10ft for reference. The remains are very decomposed, mainly skin with not a lot of bone.
The main part of the remains are just east of the Martello tower at Normans Bay. The Council have put warning signs out.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

MCS Great British Beach Clean Event at Shoreham LNR

Friends of Shoreham Beach take part each year in the Marine Conservation Society - Great British Beach Clean
This year the local event was on 18th September, and organised by John Charlish committee member Friends of Shoreham Beach.
Also this year I was able to come along to help with the planned beach clean to provide a deeper awareness and understanding of the global and local problems caused by plastic. The event base was set up alongside the recently constructed boardwalk (which is actually made from recycled plastic)

This included my display stand focusing on why Shoreham Beach (where the event was taking place) was important and how we benefit from the ocean (ecosystem services) such as 50% of our oxygen, freshwater, 15% of food as well as how the ocean moderates our climate and weather. The display stand also provided a focus on local consequences to global issues – such as climate change and sea level rise.

The display stand also included pictures and information from the One World One Ocean Project and Ed the Bear.
I have been send Ed the Bear to scientists around the world to find our about the ocean and ocean conservation which we then share at events and visiting schools using to create links between the local and global, a celebration of the ocean which includes a focus on conservation issues explored first hand. and
This also included local and global examples of plastic debris (including plastic strapping which came from cape fur seals that were entangled in the plastic, plastic incidents around the world including the necklace gifted to Ed the Bear while in Hawaiian islands – made from a numbered scientific leg band from an albatross chick that died from swallowing plastic.
Ed raises awareness of the plight of these majestic birds and also about the dangers to UK sea birds such as fulmar. There was also a big focus on micro plastics – from how large plastics items degrade into spammer items (which can be ingested) and also micro beads and other human sources.

Part of the display also focused on the fact that not everything you find on the beach is rubbish – focusing on ray, dogfish, whelk and similar egg cases that look like they are plastic.
I spoke to the participants about plastic pollution as they gathered awaiting the start of the beach clean. This included explaining about micro plastics and how the smaller items on the beach are often more dangerous to local marine life.

After a briefing by John the participants, armed with a large bags, gloves and grabbers, started the beach clean.
They were divided into two groups, one group which would undertake the finger-tip litter pick survey which would be sent to MCS, the remained cleaned the beach outside of this designated area.
I remained by the stand for a while and spoke to members of the public passing along the boardwalk.

I then headed off down the far end of the beach clean boundary to check up and support the volunteers, as well as answer questions and share information.

I walked back with the last of the volunteers as they returned with their bags of debris and returned the grabbers.
A final chance to talk to participants before the event ended. A large amount of debris was removed from the beach – however there were fewer large items found this time – so maybe the message is getting across. This meant we collected a lot of smaller items of plastic.

We still have to tally up the amount of litter collected and the result of the marine litter survey. The bags of litter collected will be collected for us by Adur District Council. It was a very successful day.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Dead stranding common do,lphin Kingston Gorse

I received a report from Worthing Beach Office that a dead dolphin had been washed ashore at Kingston Gorse near Littlehampton over the weekend.
The remains were taken up to the Zoological Society of London for a post mortem. The photographs were not conclusive (I thought it might possibly have been a long beaked common dolphin - the images had be wide angle and gave an unusual perspective) but it was confirmed to be a short beaked common dolphin.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Exhibiting at Adur RiverFest 2016

I took a display to River fest on 27th August. FoSB’s Julia Fowles assisted on the stand in the morning. River Fest took place on Coronation Green on the edge of the river Adur giving a perfect location for the event.
Shoreham beach is connected to the River Adur in many ways; in fact it was formed by the sea, coastal processes, and the river. The have both been tied together by maritime history and there are also many natural connections between Shoreham beach, the sea, river estuary and the river.
So, where better to raise awareness and celebrate this than River Fest.

The display stand was tailored especially for this event and explained various topics. ‘Why Shoreham Beach is Special’ – focusing on the role of the nature reserve and the rare vegetated shingle habitat.
Ed the Bear One Ocean Project provided a global dimension to the local topics.Why the Ocean is important’ focused on the benefits we all receive from the ocean (freshwater, 50% of our oxygen, 15% of our food and much more included how the ocean creates and moderates our climate and weather.

This linked well to another display panel ‘Global Problems – Local Consequences’ which focused on rising sea temperature and how melting ice and expanding oceans (thermal expansion -as water heats up) linked to the local consequence of local sea defence work and the current river defence development.
This panel also focused on plastic pollution – including micro plastics which are ingested by marine life including plankton. 
This also included our display about plastic pollution and a micro plastic activity.
To help raise awareness of global issues we shared my adventures Ed the Bear visiting scientists around the world and sharing their knowledge with schools and also the public.
A panel explained how Shoreham Beach had been formed over centuries by longshore drift and the river Adur using maps starting at 13th Century to modern time.
This panel also explained about Shoreham’s important maritime heritage including the ship building and trade and the reason I entered into the spirit of the event, pirate theme, by dressing as a pirate.
A final panel illustrated some of the birds that visit the Adur estuary and beach and also examples of the many sightings of seals and dolphins that Steve has recorded over the years – off Shoreham beach and in the river Adur, as Sussex Regional Coordinator for the Sea Watch Foundation which he has run as a volunteer since 1993.

I spoke to many local people  during the day and as hoped, this allowed us to connect with a different section of the local community than we usually engine with  at our nature themed walks and talks.
The event was buzzing all day with a very wide range of ages. It was a great day with lots of interest about Shoreham Beach Nature Reserve, the river, the river defences, global conservation, plastic pollution and much more. 

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Why is Shoreham Beach So Special? 20th August

Another event I organised and ran as part of the 10 year celebration of the Shoreham Beach Nature Reserve, supported by Heritage lottery Awards for All funding.


This event took place at the Church of the Good Shepherd Hall on Shoreham Beach and on the adjacent Shoreham Beach Local Nature Reserve with help from FoSB’s Chris Bohea.
Sadly the previous spell of hot weather broke and we had heavy rain early on in the morning and then 50 mph winds blowing along the beach. This almost certainly impacted in the number of people who turned up for this event.

However we did get a few families come along to the event and a couple of individuals and despite these conditions they were very enthusiastic.

Partly for safety reasons and partly to include as much of the original planned content, I adapted the event to accommodate the bad weather but still keep as much of the original content.

Instead of one presentation and the remainder taking pace on the beach, I ran part of the Why is Shoreham Beach Special presentation (focusing on the nature reserve, vegetated shingle habitat, wildlife and how Shoreham beach was formed and shaped by the river and coastal processes – which continue today. Plus activity about plastic pollution and micro-plastics. People then eat lunch in the hall instead of on the beach. 

After this we all went over to the beach for about 20 minutes (participant’s safety uppermost) and looked at the shingle plants and sea birds.

We collected pebbles and strandline objects and brought them back to the hall to consider what we could learn from observing them.

After a while I ran a seashore strandline quiz – including lots of pictures of the animals that the objects they had found actually came from such as cuttlefish and their eggs, dogfish and egg development sequence, rays, whelk eggs, etc.

The event finished with local and global links using Ed the Bear based at Shoreham Beach to consider how Shoreham beach is connected to the global ocean, how we benefit from the ocean (moderates our climate and weather, provides 50% of our oxygen etc) and how global issues (such as climate change and sea level rise might impact Shoreham beach and the nature reserve. Lots of images made the session very visual and also had an intriguing quiz element.

Despite the weather and the need to run more of the event inside – everyone seemed to have an enjoyable day. This event was funded by the Awards for All Heritage Lottery helping us to celebrate Shoreham Beach’s 10 years Anniversary as a Local Nature Reserve.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Annual Rock Pool Event at Shoreham

Another very successful annual rock pooling day at Shoreham. Visitors were very enthusiastic and full of questions. Due to the fact that many people were still queuing up after the start time I divided the briefing session into two groups.  

I asked at the beginning of the briefing and about ¼ to ⅓ had taken part before the rest were new to the event. At least half of the people were local, (difficult to be exact as they were in two separate groups). However one family had come from Surrey and another from London (and had travelled down that day. Some local visitors had brought along family who were staying with them at the time.

 During the event lots of people called me over to see what they had caught or to identify something that was attached to a rock or in a pool – which was quite constant.

I also spoke to people around the aquarium tanks at the top of the beach where we had housed a few of the animals collected by visitors.  
I also encouraged people to go up and look at the tanks (e.g. if they showed me an anemone in a pool that was closed I would talk to them about anemones and then encouraged them to see the open anemones in the tanks, etc).

This seemed to be a good balance because people are particularly interested in knowing about the things they have found themselves.

During the event a large net was discovered and was slowly being uncovered by the tide. There were many crabs tangled in the net which visitors and event staff helped to rescue.

There were also fish and other animals trapped in the net which probably attracted the crabs in the first place.  T
The live animals were rescued and the net cut into pieces and removed from the beach.

While nothing very unusual was found this time, except a large flounder, we did find many shore crabs, beadlet anemones, shrimps, prawns, common blenny, a juvenile solonette, sea slater, chiton and much more. We also observed many sea birds including tern and cormorant and we also got a quick glimpse of the kingfish as it flashed past the beach.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

National Whale and Dolphin Watch

I ran a sea mammal watch at Shoreham Beach Local Nature Reserve on 30th July to encourage local people to participate in National Whale and Dolphin Watch and to raise awareness of the seals and dolphins seen locally.

National Whale and Dolphin Watch is an annual event run by the Sea Watch Foundation a scientific charity dedicated to protecting UK whales and dolphins (cetaceans) since 1993. National Whale and Dolphin Watch is a citizen science based event which is now in its 15th year.

The local event was run as a joint Sea Watch Foundation and Friends of Shoreham Beach (I have been Sussex Regional Coordinator for the Sea Watch Foundation since 1993). This joint local event was funded by the Awards for All Heritage Lottery Funding

National Whale and Dolphin Watch provides a valuable annual snapshot of sea mammal activity across the 35 UK regional groups and is part of the foundations ongoing observation programme to survey and protect UK dolphins and whales which number a surprising 29 species.

The Shoreham watch started unofficially at 9.30am when I arrived to set up the display stand and took the first scan of the sea with binoculars. This first record of the day recorded the sea conditions at sea state 2, with a wind force of 2-3 from the SW. Cloud cover was 7/8 and the visibility was good.

The display stand provided information about the Sea Watch Foundation and also depicted some of the local dolphin and seal sightings including examples from this year.
There was also information about threats to sea mammals and the ocean including micro plastics and over nutrification of coastal waters caused by nitrates such as from detergents and water run-off from agricultural land.

The first person arrived just before the official start time of 10.00am and soon we had a small group of dedicated watchers. At 10.30am newly enlisted Sea Watch Volunteers Hannah and Neil arrived to help with the survey.

At about 10.50am a heavy downpour forced everyone to retreat from the beach.

Afterwards, some had gone home but 10 people returned to continue the watch. Interestingly, after the storm, the visibility increased to excellent and the wind dropped to force 2 and the sea condition to sea state 1 after the storm had passed through.

During the day more people arrived to take part with the watch, some by car, some on bicycle and some on foot.

The planned children’s activities run by Steve took place later than planned because of the weather. These included measuring out the length of blue whale (30m)
We then including some of the smaller species including bottlenose dolphin (3.5m), killer whale – orca (9m), humpback whale (15m) and sperm whale which at 20 metres is the largest toothed whale.

Objects for handling included a whale vertebrate,


sperm whale tooth

and baleen (from filter feeding minke whale). 

An activity also focused on threats to whales and dolphins.
We also investigated some of the strandline objects washed ashore and identified what we found - including these ray egg cases

The watch continued to 12.50pm (10 minutes short of the planned time when another heavy shower rolled in.

No sea mammals were seen during the watch, (but Steve reported to the watchers that a bottlenose dolphin was spotted at Seaford the previous day). Even so, negative data is also essential as part of the snap shot. Watchers were also encouraged to observe the sea birds which included herring and black-back gulls, terns (occasionally diving for fish), flock of turnstones feeding on the shore line and the occasional cormorant.

Shoreham Beach Nature Reserve leaflets were also handed out on the day, to participants and also to passing members of the public who came over to see what we were doing. A list of future events was included as part of the display stand and interested people were encouraged to visit the FoSB website and visit the events page. People taking part said they had enjoyed the event, despite the weather.

41 people took part in the actual watch and information was shared with passers-by.