Gibraltar Point hosts vital seaweed survey

THE UNSPOILT maritime treasures of the local coastline were put under the microscope last week when researchers flocked to Gibraltar Point for a ground-breaking seaweed survey.

Several researchers journeyed to the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust site as part of the first-ever survey of its type on the east coast.

No fewer than 11 sites up and down the east coast of England were involved in the survey - from Northumberland in the north to Essex in the south.

The east coast is an under-surveyed section of the UK’s coastline, but it supports two of the country’s largest subtidal chalk reefs.

It is hoped that the Seaweed East surveys will provide vital evidence of the true variety of life supported in these waters.

Joan Edwards, Head of Living Seas for The Wildlife Trusts, said: “Seaweed is mainly known for being slimy and squelchy but, like plants on land, it plays a vital part in marine ecosystems.

“Its health and abundance reveals a great deal about the overall health of a given environment.”

“A seaweed survey coordinated by Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust last year recorded at least 150 species of seaweed.

“It greatly increased our knowledge of the marine wildlife around the area, and turned up some invasive species previously unrecorded there.

“We expect Seaweed East will bring similar surprises to light.”

During the new surveys renowned marine biologists and divers will work with a botanist and a wild food expert to explore the 11 locations, which include several previously unsurveyed Wildlife Trust coastal nature reserves.

At each site, all species of seaweed will be recorded, and samples taken.

There are around 650 species of seaweed in the UK.

They are a hugely versatile resource, used in food, medicines and cosmetics.

Seaweeds are equally important to marine life as they are to humans, providing food and habitat for creatures.