From 29 July to 6 August 2023, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and the Natural History Museum are asking citizen scientists across the UK to head to the coast and record seaweed as part of the charity’s Big Seaweed Search.
Participation in the Big Seaweed Search will help to map the distribution of specific species of seaweed around the UK, providing long-term data to illustrate the impact of environmental and temperature changes in the seas, and the spread and the spread of non-native seaweeds.
The UK is home to more than 600 different species of seaweed, 14 of which were identified from the 470 records submitted during the 2022 Big Seaweed Search, with bladder wrack, serrated wrack and calcified crust the most commonly spotted.
‘Anyone can get involved with Big Seaweed Search Week – you don’t need to be a seaweed expert or live near the sea, just one visit to the coast will do. You can use our handy resources to identify and record what you see,’ said Justine Millard, Head of Volunteering and Citizen Science at MCS.
‘Seaweed is a real ocean superstar, helping to buffer the effects of climate change, absorbing and storing carbon and protecting our coasts from waves and storm damage. However, populations of kelp – large brown seaweeds that are a vital ‘blue carbon’ store – are reported to be declining around the world.
‘The more data we gather, the more knowledge we’ll have to protect our ocean, and seaweeds, for the future.’
Although MCS organises an annual event for the Big Seaweed Search, anyone can take part, at any time of year. The survey can be carried out as an individual or in groups, and be completed on a mobile, tablet or computer.
The charity has provided training videos and online resources to assist in the seach, including a guide which helps beachgoers to identify the seaweed species they’re likely to spot and explains what they need to do.
To get involved in the Big Seaweed Search:
- Register to take part and download the guide and recording form at bigseaweedsearch.org
- Choose 5 metres of coastline to survey
- Fill in your survey form
- Take lots of clear, close-up photographs for your survey to be accepted
- Submit the survey through bigseaweedsearch.org
Visit the Marine Conservation Society for more information to get started.