Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Brighton Science Festival

Last Saturday I took a display to the Brighton Science Festival with the Friends of Shoreham Beach Local Nature Reserve. This was a joint display depicting various aspects of the Nature reserve and local dolphin and whale sightings for the Sea Watch Foundation (for whom I am the Sussex Co-ordinator). As Sussex country recorder for Sea Mammals and Sussex Regional Coordinator for the Sea Watch Foundation (SWF) I represented the SWF with a display about Sussex whale and dolphin sightings. As a member of the management group for Shoreham Beach LNR I helped represent (with the help of members of FoSB) the nature reserve.

The Friends of Shoreham Beach (FoSB) display explained why Shoreham Beach had been made a Nature Reserve (because of its rare vegetated shingle habitat) and the work of the FoSB.

The FoSB display also included an exhibit about marine litter. This consisted of a variety of litter items cast ashore by the tide which were tied to a piece of fishing net (also marine litter). Each label had a tag with information about how long it takes each item to biodegrade.
There was also a display that I had worked on (based on te outraech work I had done with local schools earlier in the year) which depicted elements of coastal geography.
This looked at how the local coastline was formed and how it is shapeed by natural forces. This included how chalk and flint were formed and how the shingle beaches contain flint scoured from the chalk and deposited on the coast after the last ice age. Some are the result of more recent coastal erosion. The display also looked at vegeated shingle; the animals that are attacted by this habitat, how the plants have adapted to live in this harsh environment and the threats this habitat faces. These was also information about strandline objects and some examples that could be handled.

The main focus of the Sea Watch Foundation display was a life sized bottlenose dolphin, the species most frequently seen along the Sussex coastline.

Infomation about local dolphin sightings (including pictures) were displayed down the left side of the display while the right side provided information about dolphin natural history. There were also some fact quiz questions.

The remainder of the display looked at the science of studying dolphins and whales focusing on photo-identification (recognising individual whales or dolphins) , DNA sampling and satellite tagging whales to study migrations and populations. We also displayed a dolphin skull, sperm whale tooth, baleen killer whale vwertebrae (all on loan from the local Booth Museum of Natural History in Brighton. The event was well attended and there was a lot of interest and divese questions.

No comments: